Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be? One Middle-Aged Lady is Stuck in the Lavatory

looI’m  not sure if the original version  of the ditty is 3 ladies got stuck in the lavatory or whether it was 7  – either way, I think I know why there were so many of them in there. As someone who has been stuck in the lavatory on at least 2 occasions, I have some experience.  My tale isn’t especially comic, but it does make for a mildly amusing post.

The first time was when I was at college.  It was the day of my final exams.  I took the sensible precautionary measure of going to the loo beforehand.  Unfortunately, it was at that precise moment that the door lock decided to fail and I couldn’t get out!  There were various attempts by friends to free me from the outside, but to no avail. My friends, understandably, didn’t want to wait about and get a late mark against them, but given that this wasn’t the era of mobile phones, they did agree to alert the caretaker.  I’d like to say I spent the time calmly revising, but I spent most of the time stood on the loo seat panicking about how I would get out and how late I was going to be for my exams. I considered various escape ploys, including getting through the tiny window and shimmying down the drainpipe to safety, but I didn’t rate my chances.

Thankfully the caretaker arrived swiftly.  I wasn’t standing on the toilet seat at that point, but he advised me to do so, and get back as far as I could.  In a space approximately 6 foot by 4 foot, that is not a long way back.  No harm came to me as he broke through the door to release me.  I daren’t tell him that the stress made me feel like I needed the loo again, and there was certainly no way I was going to risk it!

I’ve had a variety of near misses since then: stuck locks, difficult to shove bolts, stuck doors etc., but the second time I was locked in a toilet for real was last October, whilst on holiday in Lanzarotte.  I was on a coach trip of the island and we’d stopped at the aloe vera farm.  Not being sure how far we were from our next stop, I decided a visit to the loo might be a good option.  This particular convenience was situated about 150 metres away from the shop where the tour guide, staff and other visitors were congregated.  It was essentially a concrete hut at the end of a field.

Initially I was disconcerted that there appeared to be no bolt or visible lock, but it became clear that there was a Yale lock, with the key hung by the mirror, with directions for use.  The instructions weren’t especially complicated: ‘please use the key, not the handle to exit.  Turn key to the left.’, or some such wording. Suitably relieved, I tried to exit the building.  Try being the operative word.  The key turned to the left, but the door failed to open.  I tried it several times, with increasing concern.  I tried turning it to the right, nothing doing.  The key actually managed to turn 360 degrees without the door lock opening at all.  I tried pushing the door, turning the knob, in fact anything I could think of to secure my release.  When all of the options failed I tried panic.  It didn’t really help.  I smashed my knuckles banging on the door and was losing my voice shouting. It’s surprising how tiring panicking is in 26 degrees of heat.

I stopped banging the door and assessed the window option.  Why is it that toilet windows are always small and high and difficult to get to?  With one foot in the sink and a knee resting on the tiny ledge I decided it wasn’t a viable option, so I shouted from the opening instead.  Given it was facing a field of aloe vera and the mountains, it was a fairly futile attempt.

I did have a mobile phone on me this time, but who was I going to call?  I was on the trip alone and my sister was sunning herself on the resort beach.  I did call her mobile, but knew it would be futile as she doesn’t take her phone to the beach with her.  What’s the number for emergency services or directory enquiries in the Canary Islands?  I had no idea.  I was getting hot and thirsty by now.  I’d been in there for at least 30 minutes, although it seemed like a lot longer.  It was at this point of desperation that I noticed a large rock at the base of the sink, possibly for propping open the door.  I decided I could employ it as a battering tool to try and break the door down.  So, shouting and banging I tried once more to effect my escape.  It was at that point I heard the voices:  ‘We’re going to get you out’.  Boy was I relieved (no pun intended).

The shop staff had been informed I was missing by the tour guide.  Not that the tour guide had notice I was missing!  A passenger on the coach alerted the tour guide to the space where I should have been and she got the coach driver to come back for me.  It still took them a while to come and check the toilet, but eventually I was freed.  The news that the toilets were being replaced was of little consolation.  I was hot, emotional, and voiceless.  I survived the experience, obviously, and live to tell you this cautionary tale.  So, whenever you’re out an about try and make sure you take at least one friend to the loo with you .  It could save you a lot of pain. Literally.

Any (clean) long loo tales welcome!

 

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