That night, when Melanie and I decided to continue our Firefly marathon at her place, I couldn't lock my door. The key would go in, but it wouldn't turn. It locked from the inside just fine, but the key refused to be of any help. I tried everything but figured my new DVR was safe. I called the maintenance number and left a message saying I needed to have my lock fixed.
When I came home, my door was unlocked!! Which was just how I left it. I locked the door before I went to bed.
This morning, I had to go return a library book. Just for kicks, I tried to lock my door.
And to my surprise, I could. I thought it'd be funny if now I couldn't unlock the door.
Turns out, not really that funny.
I thought, okay, not a problem right now. Maybe it will have magically fixed itself when I get back. Right now, I needed to return this library book. I did so.
The key. Would not. Turn. I jiggled. I pushed and pulled on the door. I tried using the laundry key. Nothing worked.
I went outside and called the maintenance number, got the emergency maintenance number from the message, and called the emergency maintenance number. A woman answered, and I told her my story, omitting the part where I'd opened the door with the wrong key (this part would always be omitted so as not to elicit a "You broke it, sorry" response). She paged the maintenance person.
I waited for forty-five minutes in the lobby. During this time, I had to use the restroom. First, I checked on my floor to see if anyone was awake. It was around 11:30. I couldn't hear any signs of life, so I didn't knock, not wanting to wake anyone. Then I remembered the closest restroom I had access to: the one in MSRB III. Thank goodness I never turned in my key.
I got a phone call. It was someone relaying some information to me: maintenance advised me to call a locksmith. Wha? This is your maintenance help? Would I have to pay for it? They had no answer. Minutes later, I got a call from the woman I'd spoken to earlier, again telling me that maintenance wanted me to call a locksmith. I asked her if I could have them reimburse me, and she said she didn't know, she didn't actually work for the company.
Well, now I needed a phone book. Hey, I had a phone book! IN MY APARTMENT. Oh. Damn. I walked to Melanie's to see if the girls were awake. No signs of life. I didn't want to ring the doorbell and wake everyone up, so I called Melanie. Who didn't answer.
There was probably a phone book in the GAP area, and if not, there were computers with Internet. My card still worked. I looked around, and there was a phone book, sitting right under a phone. I flipped to Locksmiths (in retrospect, I really should have tried flipping to Pimp and stopping at P.I.). I had no idea which to call.
After some deliberation, I picked one and tried calling, but the number didn't work. I tried another, and a man picked up. I told him about my key not turning, and he asked if I were going to get my realtor to reimburse me, and I said I hoped so. The reason was, he said, it was a Sunday, and the minimum charge would be $129.50. "You're kidding me," I said. He said it sounded like a lubrication issue (dirty!), and I should try spraying some WD-40. I thanked him.
I didn't have any WD-40 in my apartment, not that it would have done me any good. I saw that I had a missed call, though. I called the number, and it was the maintenance guy. He asked me if I was locked out. I said yes and started telling my story, but then I noticed he wasn't on the other end. It was weird for my phone to have dropped a call with such good signal, but I called back and apologized. He said it was his phone, actually; Nextel had been doing it all day. Then he asked if I knew about the fee. I was all, fee? There'd better not be a fee for this. He said it was $75.00. Bitch, please. I told him I wanted to try this WD-40 thing before I shelled out seventy-five motherfucking dollars.
Once again, I tried Poolhaus Revisited. No answer. Across the street, however, were signs of life. People outside Michigan House, a co-op. I went over and asked if they had any WD-40; I was locked out of my apartment. The guy didn't think so, and a girl didn't think so either, but the guy went and checked anyway. The cute girl standing entertained me by singing the "Manamana" song and also doing the Snoopy dance, which reminded me of Xander. The guy returned with the news that they had no WD-40.
I started walking back, on the lookout for any other people awake. A bunch of guys had just returned home, and I asked one if they had any WD-40. He said, you know, he thought he did. He went and got it for me. It didn't have that little straw thing, but he said I could use however much I wanted, just hold it up there and spray.
I went back to the apartment, again, always trying the key one more time to see if it had magically fixed itself. It hadn't. I sprayed directly into the keyhole and waited about three minutes. I tried the key. It wouldn't turn. I sprayed more and waited five minutes. No. I sprayed a fucking ton and waited ten minutes. And I sprayed the key, for kicks. Still nothing. This wasn't a simple lubrication problem. The pins were all fucked up inside, I knew. Because the stupid lock accepted the wrong key and let it turn.
I returned the WD-40 and washed my hands. Now, I didn't know what to do. I was also getting hungry. And I didn't want to pay $75.00 for something this stupid. That's just a whole fucking lot of money gone for no fucking good reason, and I can't afford shit like that right now. If it was just some sort of emergency maintenance fee, I would wait till they fixed the lock on Monday per my maintenance request. I would sleep outside or something.
I called Melanie again, and there was no answer. It was the third or fourth time. I sat on the couch on the porch. I was also tired and sleepy, having woken up around eight on a Sunday unexpectedly. I didn't want to wake everyone else up, so I sat. I didn't know what else to do, but I wasn't going to cave until I had exhausted my options. I don't know, maybe someone in the house knew someone who could pick locks.
I lay down on the couch. After about ten or fifteen minutes, Kristine came out, saying she'd heard the doorbell ringing, which was odd since I hadn't rung the doorbell. But somehow, I had managed to wake her up, so I was sorry about that. I told her what had happened.
I came in and crashed on the papasan as Kristine told Melanie I was here. While Melanie woke up and got ready, Kristine looked online for any sort of legal arguments I had for not being charged a fee for a maintenance issue. I called my parents, and they were just as baffled as I was that they were talking about charging me for fixing a broken lock. Kristine asked if the deadbolt was straight or curved, because if it were curved, I could do the credit card thing. I thought it was straight.
Melanie finally came down; she hadn't realized my plight.
I called the maintenance guy back and said that I'd tried the WD-40 and it hadn't worked, which led to me to believe it wasn't a lubrication issue, which led me to believe it was a problem with the lock itself, which led me to believe I shouldn't be charged a fee. He said it did sound like it was a problem with the lock. And then he got cut off again. I called back, and he said he'd be there in fifteen minutes. I have a feeling that when he originally got the message, he was only told that I was locked out of my apartment with no other explanation. I can understand a fee if I lost my keys or forgot them inside (although $75.00 is still assrape of the highest order (okay, second highest, given the $129.50)), but that's not what had happened.
At that moment, of course, it started pouring rain. I wanted to make the story that much worse by walking home in the rain, but Melanie insisted on driving me home. For the umpteenth time, I tried my key to see if it had magically fixed itself, and it hadn't. I came downstairs to find the maintenance guy. We rode up in the elevator, and I showed him to my door.
He said that his master key bypassed a lot of pins, so even if some pins were broken or fallen out, it would work. I gave him my key, and he slowly put it into the lock, notch by notch. And then tried to turn it and failed.
His master key, on the other hand, opened it easily. I was in my apartment omg yay. Nearly four hours later. As it turned out, my deadbolt was curved, though I wasn't really skilled at the credit card thing anyway.
The maintenance guy removed the old lock and brought me a new lock and key. Whew. Although I was a little disconcerted by the fact that at no point during this entire process did anyone verify my identity in any way. Sure, my key went into the lock, but my key goes into all the locks; it just doesn't turn. Which made it no different from its behavior on my own lock today.
'Twas a harrowing experience, to be sure.