Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Big Funny Trainwreck Of A Day...

I woke up Friday morning to the Serbian maintenance man busting into my room to inspect the radiator. He had knocked on the door while I was still asleep and I groggily yelled "Who is it?" Instead of responding, he used his supersonic maintenance key and opened the door.

I was beyond horrified. "Hey, I'm still sleeping," I stammered. "Can you come back later?"

He smiled and babbled away in a language that was probably supposed to be English but I didn't understand a word of it. Meanwhile, I can feel that my embarrassingly girly pajama sunk to an unfortunate position while I was asleep, so I don't even want to move. I kept the covers over me and hoped he would get the hint.

He didn't get the hint. He came in and messed around with the radiator. I think I got an email saying that this was supposed to happen, but I don't think I read it. It wouldn't have been a big deal if it hadn't been first thing in the morning, but I always find it obnoxious when people completely disregard the sign on my door:

That's right - I have visiting hours. If you want to knock on my door or come in my room past visiting hours, you either have to be invited or it has to be for a really important reason.

Radiator Man was not invited, nor was it that important.

My personal favorite part of the whole ordeal was when he ran out of the room to get something and left the door wide open. Yes, I was still hiding under my covers and I'm sure my hair looked wonderful. Hello, world.

The whole affair was over in a matter of minutes. I got up, made coffee, combed my hair, and moved on with my life. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a very strange day.

Because apparently, when the Serbian maintenance man was done inspecting everybody's radiators, he locked the master key into the secret room that holds all of the maintenance keys. So when my next door neighbor, Purple Hair, locked herself out of her room that night, she had no way to get in.

This put a kink in everybody's evening. Purple Hair was going to throw a party in the kitchen and all of the beer was in her room. She called The Management, but they told her there was nothing they could do until morning. It was obvious that we needed to work together to pick the lock.

The Poet tried all of his keys. The guy from New Jersey attempted his credit card trick but it failed. I supplied a bobby pin and Purple Hair's drunken friend unsuccessfully rammed it into the lock. The old hippy lady that lives down the hall even brought out her hack saw blades.

None of this stuff was working. It was time to investigate another option: breaking in through the window (which she had conveniently left open).

Of course, the window plan came with a major setback - the fact that we live on the third floor. We had two options:

1) Find ladders, preferably one very tall one, and have someone climb up to the open window, jump into the room, and unlock the door.

2) Find a rope and get somebody to swing out of my window (Indiana Jones style) and over to my neighbor's window.

Though I really wanted option two to happen so I could film it and put it in my music video, option one sounded like the most practical way to go. Plus, no one had a rope that would be long enough. The really creepy guy that lives in the stairwell (I don't think I've written much about him, but he's the one person here I'm afraid to be in a room alone with) offered to let us use his rope, but it turned out to be too short. So The Fonz and The Poet went into the basement to investigate ladder options while everyone else smoked a cigarette on the front porch and I went back to my room to check my email.

It was after midnight at this point, and wasn't long until everyone was yelling my name from the smoking porch. So I opened the window and popped my head out. Everyone cheered.

"We thought you had been raptured!" they explained. "You just kinda disappeared and you're a really nice person, so we thought maybe Jesus took you."

I laughed. "No, I'm still here. You're stuck with me."

Everyone cheered again. Then The Fonz told me I should look up the number to POP-A-LOCK. I brought it up online and yelled it down to them. Purple Hair borrowed somebody's cell phone (hers was locked in her room) and gave them a call. They were too expensive, so she yelled for me to look up another number. I googled "locksmith Portland" and gave her the number of one that claimed to only charge $15.

As a side note, I really wanted to yell "I'M NOT A MADAM, I'M A CONCIERGE" when I was sticking my head out the window. If you don't get the reference, don't worry about it.

Anyway, Purple Hair got ahold of these cheap locksmiths. It took them forever, but eventually they showed up in their sketchy white van.

This is where the night goes into full-fledged sitcom mode (if it wasn't there already).

These "professional locksmiths" turn out to be a couple of bros in matching hats that have logos printed on them. The one guy couldn't have been older than 20 and the other guy had the sort of teeth that suggest a recent meth addiction. We'll call them Young Locksmith and Sketchy Locksmith (though they were both kind of sketchy). They were super white but talked like they weren't.

Upon inspecting Purple Hair's door, they announced that the job would cost a minimum of $200. I thought Purple Hair might cry. We are all starving artists here and Purple Hair is no exception.

"Okay," she said. "I'll get you the $15 for your time and I'll sleep on the couch in the kitchen." She was about to go into the kitchen to borrow cash from somebody, but Young Locksmith offered to barter with her.

I was in my room (waiting for the rapture) at this point, but I clearly overheard this conversation in the hallway:

Purple Hair: "I have $75 in my bank account."
Young Locksmith: "This is a $200 minimum job..."
Purple Hair: "I've got beer in there."
Sketchy Locksmith: "I don't drink anymore. I've been clean for 14 months!"
Purple Hair: "Um, we can smoke bowls when this is all over..."
Sketchy Locksmith: (giggling) "Maybe you can show us your-"
Young Locksmith: (interrupting him) "We'll do it for $75!"

The two locksmiths went back to the van and came back with a bunch of equipment. They spent several minutes attempting to pry the door open while a bunch of us watched. We make smalltalk with them while they work and soon it becomes obvious that though they both have tons of experience breaking into houses, they haven't been licensed locksmiths for long.

The door continues to be very, very locked. Purple Hair's drunken friend offhandedly mentions that the window is wide open and the locksmiths drop their tools. "That's a different story," Young Locksmith says. "Let's go outside!"

We all go outside to stand on the smoking porch and watch the guys size up the window. There's a whole crew of us at this point - The Fonz, The Poet, Purple Hair, The Drunken Friend, and The New Hipster That Just Moved In (more on him later).

And of course, no sitcom moment is complete without the infamous Tweaked Out Elvis Costello. So naturally, he was already on the porch when we got there, drinking something out of a Sunny D bottle that he later revealed to be olive oil mixed with marijuana. He babbled incoherently about the process of making said olive oil while the two lock smiths snuck around to the spot where the big ladders are chained up.

I wasn't there for this conversation, but I guess it went like this:

Sketchy Locksmith: "I can cut the chain with my angle grinder."
Purple Hair: "Uhh...that's not my property...I don't think we should do that..."
Sketchy Locksmith: "Come on, just let me use my angle grinder!"
Purple Hair: "No, I really don't think that's a good idea..."
Young Locksmith: (to the other locksmith) "Yeah, we can't do things that are illegal, remember? That would be extremely illegal."
Sketchy Locksmith: "Damn."

So they brainstormed other ways to get into the window. It was cold outside so most of us that were just part of the audience went inside. I went back to my room to use the bathroom and looked out my window at the scene. It was priceless. Purple Hair and her drunk friend were standing right below the open window in question while the locksmiths were fishing around in their scary van. Tweaked Out Elvis Costello was delivering a monologue about something from the porch, his hands waving wildly.

Unfortunately, I went into the kitchen and was talking to The Fonz and The Poet when the most exciting bit of this happened. But I guess the locksmiths pulled the van up to the side of the building and balanced a small ladder on top. Sketchy Locksmith held the ladder while Young Locksmith climbed up.

"Have you done this before?" Purple Hair cautiously yelled.
"We've done lots of things," Young Locksmith replied from several feet off of the ground. "You know, we used to be drug dealers!"

And with that, he grabbed ahold of the window ledge and catapulted himself into her room. He opened the door from the inside and announced that it would be $75.

Best. Locksmiths. Ever.

Purple Hair offered them some beer, but Sketchy Locksmith reminded us yet again that he has been clean for 14 months. So she paid them their $75 (tacking on a tip for the window stunt) and they drove off into the night in their creepy white van.

Such a weird, weird night. I'm think I'm almost sick of living in the city. Almost.


  1. LOL, that must have been some really good beer! Awesome story!

  2. I love the sign on your door! So great!

  3. This is the best locksmith story ever. I want to lock myself out just so something this awesome can happen to me, but it wouldn't. I'd get some 50 year old bald guy with no teeth hitting on me instead

  4. This is hilarious! I really hope the sketchy locksmith will get to use his angle grinder at some point.

  5. hahahaha. Oh my goodness. I wouldn't have known whether to laugh or cry at them.

  6. Sounds like a crazy day! I would've smacked the radiator guy, seriously. Those sketchy locksmiths? Awesome. Remind me to call those guys up when I head to Portland this June, haha. ;D

    Don't get tired of the city. We need to hear about your awesome adventures! =D

    PS. I'm so making hours for my room now. Good idea.

  7. HAHAHA there are so many things I want to compliment you on about this post I can't remember them all.

    First off, I LOVE your use of nicknames.

    Second off, I love how you guys were all so intent on getting the better out of the room and it's definitely something I would have done.

    And third, this is just an amazing story and you are a really good storyteller so I am definitely following you now.


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