Friday, March 2, 2012

Just Another Bump In The Road

In other years we've been here, our lives have cruised along and have been fairly uneventful.  We've volunteered, toured, experienced Cambodian life and generally had a great trip.  This year has been a little more challenging, especially for me, because I've been plagued with sinusitis, colds, Montezuma's Revenge, and chronic bronchitis.  So when we had the tuk-tuk accident, I figured that was the topper and it would be clear sailing from there on in.


A couple of nights ago, we returned to our guesthouse room after a leisurely dinner and, as is our usual custom, Gordon readied the after-dinner martinis.  My job, as usual, was to go downstairs to the restaurant for a cupful of ice, but when I tried the door, it was locked and try as I might,  I couldn't get it to open.

Then Gordon tried the door.
He jiggled and pulled and turned, but nothing happened.
At this point, we figured it was time to call the front desk.  

Me: "Hello, this is Dorothy in Room 210.  We can't open our door." 
Front Desk: "I beg your pardon Madam.  Did you lock your key in your room by accident?  I will bring up another key to open the door."
Me: "No, I'm not sure you understand.  We are IN the room, and we can't open the door"
Front Desk:  "No problem, Madam.  I will come up with the key and unlock your door for you."

The Front Desk Clerk tried several keys, but the door wouldn't open.
Gordon jiggled and wiggled the handle from the inside.
Yep, we were locked in......

Time for a different approach....
The credit card trick you see in the movies didn't work either
(Not even with a REALLY BIG laminated card)

We tried unscrewing the door handle,
but this was as far as we got.
The faceplate unscrewed, but the handle didn't

Yep, there were screws inside, but no way for us to get to them
How the heck did they ever put this door handle together
in the first place?

Gordon got out his trusty mag-light
and a couple of dinner knives
and tried to force back the latch.
No luck.  It was really jammed.

While they worked from their end,
Gordon worked from ours.  Nothing seemed to work

By this time, several hotel workers had gathered.  I could see them through the peep-hole, and hear them discussing various options in Khmer.  Nobody was laughing either. 

Then the front desk clerk tapped on the door to get my attention.
Clerk:  Excuse me Madam!  Can you go to the window please?
Me: Which window?  There are two windows in our room.
Clerk: The window next to the door.  I want to talk to you outside.
Me: I don't know what you mean.  I can't get out.
Clerk:  No, I know Madam.  Please go the window and stick your head out.
Me: OK, no problem.
Clerk (now at the window): Hello Madam!  Can you see me?
Me (also at the window): No, I can't.
Clerk:  Put your head out the window and look to your left.  I am at the other window.
Me:  I can't.  Our window has grilles on it.  I can stick my arm through, but I can't stick my head out.  The holes are too small.
Clerk: Oh!  Sorry Madam!  OK, wait one moment, please.

At this point, I started to worry.  "Gordon, we're locked in!  We're REALLY stuck in this room.  The window grilles are welded in place so we can't even get out through the window.  What if there's a fire?....."  Gordon, of course, was calm, saying they could break down the door if necessary.  Visions of broad-shouldered, muscular firefighters danced through my head...  handsome firefighters like in the movies...  (Shake yourself Dorothy!!! This is Cambodia!  All the men here are puny, and you've never even seen a firefighter or a fire station in the whole time you've been here....) 

I was jolted back to reality by the voice of the front desk clerk.. "Hello Madam!  Can you see me?"  I looked through the window and there he was, two floors down, shining a flashlight up at me, and waving something in his hand. 
Clerk: Can you see this?
Me: No. What is it?
Clerk (waving his arms and shining the flashlight on the donut-shaped object): It's the part of the door handle.  Can you remove it?
Me: Oh, now I see it!  No, we've already tried to unscrew that part, and we can't get it off, because the door knob is blocking it.  Sorry.
Clerk:  No problem, Madam.  Please wait one moment!
(A few minutes passed, then rattling and rustling noises below) 
Clerk: Hello Madam!  Can you see this?  Can you catch it?
I looked out the window, and below me was the clerk perched precariously atop a stepladder, holding a broom high over his head.  At the end of the broom he'd tied a screwdriver.  I reached out and pulled it off, nearly toppling the front desk clerk in the process.
Me: What am I supposed to do with this?
Clerk:  Use it to remove the door handle.
Me:  There are no screws on our side.
Clerk: Oh.... OK.  Please wait one moment.

A few more minutes passed and once again, the three (or four) young men continued their efforts to unjam the bolt.  Wriggle, wiggle, jiggle, tap-tap, bang-bang.  Muffled voices. 

I began to assess the situation.  "OK, we have crackers and cheese, some fruit, cookies, water, tea and coffee.  Oh....and everything we need to make martinis.  No olives, but we'll live." 

Thirty minutes had gone by, and we were still trapped. I began to imagine spending days locked in our room, eating whatever food they could slip under the door.  Flat food.  Things like fried eggs.... grilled ham.....toast.... pizza. 

Then.... CLICK! And just like magic, the door opened.

It was evident that the bolt was ruined
(Sorry for the blurry picture.  I was so excited, I guess I was shaking a little:

Yep, I was right, four guys in all (the front desk clerk was on the other side)
Everybody had to have a good look.

They took apart our door handle and replaced it.

Escape tools, including flashlight, wrench, large butcher knife,
cut-up water bottle, laminataed bus schedule.

The front desk clerk, expecting us to be upset, held his hands in a sompeah, apologizing profusely.  We reassured him it was fine, "No problem" (In Khmer, "Ot bpunya haa").  And with that, Gordon and I picked up where we'd left off just before the door jammed.

I went downstairs to get some ice... And while they worked feverishly to replace our door handle, we sat on the balcony, enjoying a deliciously cold martini.  Without olives.   

1 comment:

  1. LOL.

    this has to be one of the funniest things I've ever read. I just can't stop laughing. Thanks, S