On Sunday evening I stayed with a friend near London. In the morning, my friend and his wife left early for work.
“Just post the key through the front door when you leave,” he yelled on the way out.
Sure. Okay. Whatever.
Ten minutes later I went to put some things in the car, and heard the front door shut behind me with a soft ‘click’. I dropped the bag I was holding. A heavy sinking feeling settled in my stomach.
‘Shit, that’s a self-locking door…’ I thought, in rising panic.
Sure enough, the door had locked itself. There I was, clutching my car keys, with my phone, wallet and friend’s house key inside. For half a minute I stood there. Then I punched the door in frustration.
Before I tell you what I did, let me ask… what would you have done?
This is what I decided to do…
First, I found a coathanger in the car, and bent it out of shape. With a little painful manoeuvring, it just about fit through the letterbox. Despite my desperate swipes, I was nowhere near the handle. The letterbox also cut into my hand, making it bleed a little.
Admitting defeat with the coathanger, I took a step back for a minute. Upstairs, my friend had left a window open. Temptingly wide open. Now, I’m not a bad climber. But I’m not exactly Spiderman, either.
I moved the wheelie bin next to the house, and shuffled on top. The lid buckled for a moment under my weight. Tentatively I stood up, and climbed quickly onto the porch above the front door. The open window was above my head, just out of reach. With nothing really to grab for, I jumped up and clung onto the bottom of the open window, right leg dangling aimlessly above the kitchen.
Glancing down, I suddenly realised how high I was. Dangerously high. High enough to hurt myself, if I fell.
Looking back, I’m glad nobody was around. If you had walked around the corner of Wren Court that day, you would have seen a well dressed man in a suit, dangling from a second floor window…
I realised that even by yanking the window as wide as it would go, there was no way I was going to fit through. I had also got myself into a dangerous pickle. I was a long way up, and my right arm had started to shake uncontrollably with adrenaline.
I hung there for a moment. Palm sweaty. Arms shaking.
I wanted to share this story with you because it illustrates that:
- I’m human, and like all humans I do exceptionally stupid things from time to time. Perhaps even more stupid than most.
- Some of the best, most engaging stories come from times you’ve done stupid things. People want to hear about your mistakes much more than your successes.
- Leaving people on a cliffhanger (or a window ledge hanger) is a really effective way to keep people reading.
- Your content is often best sandwiched in the middle of the story…
Glancing around, nobody was around to help. I looked at the route back down. To get back to safety, I had to lower myself back onto the porch, while letting go of the window. My foot landed on the porch, and my sweaty shaking hand held firm to the side of the house.
The real danger had passed.
Gratefully, this story does have a happy ending. A helpful neighbour had my friend’s mobile number. She was able to come home and rescue me, before I attempted anything else…