It was an awful beginning to the day.
I'd arrived at the apartment to open it up and let in the painters when they got there. There are three locks on the main entrance. One on the outside metal, screen door and two on the wooden door behind that. An upper lock and a lower lock. I have keys to the outer metal door and the upper lock on the wooden door. The bottom lock is broken and it has no key at all.
I was aware of this and was careful not to lock the bottom lock, and until yesterday, I meticulously checked every day before closing the door to make sure it wasn't locked. But with so many people going in and out of the house, I can't watch them all.
Yesterday I was tired and in a hurry. I didn't check that bottom lock.
So when I tried to open the door this morning--well, that just wasn't going to be possible.
The boy who comes to collect trash was there outside the door. He tried to be helpful and turn the key himself. I let him keep trying while I tried to think what to do.
Not long after, the painters arrived. They tried the keys and told the boy to go off and find some wire to try to open the lock with.
The boy was quick and brought back both the wire and an older boy to watch what was going to happen because the crazy foreigner locked herself out of her apartment.
That whole assumption was kind of maddening--the fact that they all believed this was something I had done. All of them except the true guilty party, that is (I suspect one of the painters had set the lock to close). Yes, I'll take responsibility for not carefully checking to see whether the lock was closed and being the one to close the door. But I didn't set the lock, and I didn't appreciate taking all of the blame.
One painter went off to locate a locksmith in the nearby bazaar and the other found a brick for me to sit on during our wait.
When the locksmith finally arrived, he looked the door over, said it would be hard work and asked too much money to do the job. He knew we were "held captive" in this situation and intended to get all he could out of it. Even though none of us had the tools necessary for the job (being that everything helpful was locked inside), the locksmith was sent away.
And so we waited for the landlord to show up.
And while we waited, a pattern was put in place. The two boys had disappeared. It was only the painters and I left. Every few minutes one of them would try the keys, say what a bad thing this was, ask if it were possible I had more keys in my bag somewhere, and then tell me "no tension, no tension". While I would think of a new person to try and call for a new idea or some needed consolation.
For three hours this was how things went.
And then the landlord arrived. He had a screwdriver, a hammer and a chisel. And, he had a friend of mine on the phone who was familiar with the broken lock and other handy, fix-it things.
It was only a few moments before the door was opened and the offensive lock removed so it could never happen again.
Oh may it never happen again.