You know I laughed, er guffawed, when a co-worker said “Happy Easter.” Oh crap. Have I become such a slovenly Catholic that I have forgotten Easter? No, it’s okay. At least I am one day ahead, so I can wish “Happy Easter” to my loved ones. The truth is, there are Korean Christians in Seoul but the celebrations aren’t widely and noticeably, well, celebrated.
So what did I do for Easter? Well, I began my day waking up as late as I could. WORK?! On Easter? Of course; just like Christmas Day the school is open for business. Wouldn’t want to deprive the little kiddies one day of report and essay writing or “The Joy Luck Club.” I had gone out the night before and thought I received 7 hours of sleep, I still felt tired. Kendra and I had every intention of meeting our friends for karaoke but we stopped in a club on the way and never seemed to find our way out.
Anywho, while getting ready for in my fuzzy state, I shut my bathroom door. I was about to walk out the door when I realized that I had forgotten to spritz on perfume – wouldn’t want to the students to smell last night’s club on my person! (even after showering, smoke smells tend to linger in my hair) When I grabbed the doorknob to twist and open, it wouldn’t budge. “Huh?” I remember saying out loud. I twisted it left, then right. No way! This isn’t happening. I frantically turned the doorknob every direction possible: I had somehow locked my bathroom door from the inside! I quickly surveyed my options:
- It is a simple lock, one of those push-in-type dealies. I could find a bobbypin or paperclip to simply disengage the lock.
This was the simplest option, however I was so mad at myself, my second option seemed to be ramming the flimsy door with my shaking body.
Upon looking at the clock however, I realized neither option was feasible – this door would wait until I returned. I double-checked to make sure that my cat was not IN my bathroom and I left.
I went to class and immediately sought advice and/or suggestions. Who could I call? How much would it cost to reattach a ripped-off door?
I could rely on a few co-workers to offer some suspiciously detailed instructions: “You will need a credit card or two…” “a coat hanger could work, but for a lock that small, maybe a paperclip, but you have to bend it just so…” More people seemed to laugh rather than offer suggestions… didn’t they know that this was my bathroom, a room that I would need to utilize from time to time?
When I returned home, I was dismayed to realize that instead of using the facilities at school, I had subconsciously waited until I returned home: I needed to act quickly. Zooey watched me dash around the apartment, possessed by the force that overtook my body: was it the urge to pee or the driving power to dominate this door, Chuck Norris style? I grabbed paperclips, haphazardly twisting them into spiral and hooks. I tried each one through the tiny lock… why are there keys for bathroom doors if the landlord doesn’t even provide them to the tenants? What a world! The paperclips bended easily and I feared that one would get stuck, further complicating my mission. I tossed them on the floor for Zooey to bat around.
I grabbed my manual screwdriver next. I examined the hinges on the door. What in hell… each hinge was topped with a pointy, gold cap. I tried to twist it off with my hand… nothing. Are these super-glued on? Is Super Glue the foundation of Korean architecture and engineering? I tried to pop off the caps with the screwdriver… nothing! A tightness welled inside my body, I could feel organs expanding and then tightening again… or was it my imagination? I looked at the small gap between the door and doorjam. I could clearly see the bolt of the lock extend out of the door into the jam. That’s the ticket. I gently pried the gold plate around the lock from the doorjam. It loosened and I realized how meticulous my methods would have to change. What would MacGyver do? I looked around… I needed another tool. Chopsticks? No. Wine bottle-opener? No, and I can’t take that chance of breaking it. Pens, pencils? I finally found a utensil worthy enough to try: butter knife sitting in my sink, ironically slightly covered in butter remains. I wiped it clean with the dish towel and got to work.
With the screwdriver, I pried the plate away from the lock again, this time with more fervor and concentration. I looked at the butter knife in my right hand… what can I do with this? I peered through the gap, ah yes! With the knife, I slowly lowered it under the plate to find the end of the bolt… CLICK. My door slowly “gasped,” opening to a stuffy bathroom, still in disarray from the morning. I washed my face in the sink, my hands smelling slightly of butter.
APARTMENT -2 (locked ONCE out of apartment AND bathroom)
MEGAN – 2 (TRIUMPH over entrance door and bathroom door)
Is Korean apartment living so dangerous that you must be prepared for every situation? I don’t think that I wrote about the first instance (out of embarrassment?), but I had come home from a long night out one evening last month. It was actually after 6 a.m. and I was trying to key in my password for my door. BEEP! Wrong password. I tried it again….BEEP! No, this was a different beep. This is the BEEP I usually hear right before my door opens to let me in. What’s going on? I try the password over and over again. Why isn’t it working?! I remember looking at my phone… 6:30 a.m. He’s going to be so mad at me, but he’s my only hope… I called Greg. Greg lives a block away and has been very helpful as a neighbor. He helped me install my washing machine and initially figure out the door and what keyword to use. He answered his phone groggily, but promised that he would be over soon. When he arrived, he tried my password. “Is it possible the batteries are dead?” he asked.
He explained that the panel on the inside of the apartment could be opened to allow the tenant to change batteries. Uh, well, I haven’t changed them since I moved in…. but surely this can’t be the best way to know when your batteries are dead, to be locked out of the apartment?
We began walking down the stairs… but if the panel is on the inside, then we can’t change the batteries from the outside. We went outside the building to survey the scene – I was on the second floor.
I told him how I had even considered climbing up the wall to my apartment window, but I was wearing heels and was by myself and God knows that I didn’t not want to be found dead with a broken neck and broken heels in an alley by my place. As soon as I suggested the idea, Greg looked gravely at me and asked “Is your window unlocked.” I thought carefully before I answered “Yes, I don’t know how to lock it.”
Within seconds, he leapt onto the wall, like Peter Parker as Spiderman, and effortlessly swung his legs over the railing outside my window. His body disappeared into the shadow of my veranda, or where I keep my washer. I raised my arms in triumph and ran to the entrance to meet him by my door. I promptly changed the batteries soon thereafter.
After thinking about both of these awful scenarios, I was exhausted.
I prayed to the Easter bunny and fell into an undisturbed sleep.