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I have been traveling a lot and needed to get some errands done by 6 p.m. Friday. Bank, post office, storage unit, a few general errands and then head up to Vail for the Teva Mountain Games. I get to the storage unit with plenty of time to spare and punch in my code. The gate opens and I drive in. After 45 minutes of moving stuff from my car into the storage unit and vice versa, I hop into the car with 25 minutes to drive two blocks to make it to the bank before it closes. I pull up to the key code machine and enter my code. Nothing. I enter in my other code. Still nothing. I enter in the universal code that I have (really I got it accidentally) and still, nothing. I notice that not only is nothing working, but there are no lights or beeps. The whole unit is dead, and I’m on the wrong side of a locked gate.
I open the walking gate door and wedge it open so I can get back in. I go to the machine that lets you in and enter in all of the codes again — still nothing. I shake the box just in case (it’s a guy thing).
A note indicates that the office is closed early for “family issues.” I call the number on the outside of the office door and get a recording so I leave a message. I wait and no one calls back. I think about this for a long time. My luck, if I call 911, some TV station will be listening and have a slow night and the next day I’m on the front page of the New York Times looking really dumb — behind bars! (Yes I know some of you think I may belong there.) I’m also having visions of spending the night behind bars, with no jailer, TV, toilet or food. Sure, I have a storage area, but never once imagined I’d have to store myself.
I call 911. The operator said they are going to help and call me back. Twenty minutes later, 911 calls back and the person tells me they can’t do anything. They are not allowed to break down the gate. I never asked them to break down the gate. They did say they called everyone they knew, which left me wondering if they had actually called people to help me or simply to tell their friends about a man locked behind a gate at a storage unit and share the moment. (Somewhere there is a grandmother of a 911 operator laughing at me I know!)
So I ask the 911 operator, “You mean to tell me because I am locked behind a gate I can’t get out and you won’t do anything?”
“What if I was caught in a well?”
“Sure, we would rescue you.”
“OK, I’m caught in a well, behind a locked gate.”
That didn’t work and she wasn’t amused.
The 911 operator recommends that I call someone for a ride, leave my car and get a rental car. Then I can sue the storage unit operators for the rental car costs. Wow, government promoting litigation, interesting idea there! I hang up, fairly unimpressed with Lakewood 911.
I drive around to the back. There is a little chain with a lock securing the back gate. If I can get someone to cut the lock, I can run and spend five bucks on a new lock and I’m out. Suddenly, I see a way out. And once out, I can run over to Ace Hardware, replace the lock and I’ve done $5 worth of damage. This is certainly a better alternative, though decidedly less entertaining, than the first vision I had of attaching my tow cable to the front gate and to my SUV frame and dropping the hammer on the Ford Explorer in 4WD — my luck I would leave the axle behind ala “American Graffiti.”
I think about it and I call 911 back. I ask this new lady what I should do. She says she’ll connect me to West Metro Fire Department. I talk to someone at the fire department and give her the story — I left out the part about being stuck in a well behind a gate. She says she will call around and see what they can do. About 15 minutes later a big red truck pulls up. Three fireman hop out of the big red truck and grin at me stuck behind the gate. (Why do I just know I am going to be the featured laugh of the week on police and fire forums nationwide?) One of the firemen walks up, opens a little lid, sticks a key in and voila, the gate opens. I pull my car through quickly, get out and shake their hands. They are still grinning.
It’s 6:30 p.m.. Bank is closed, post office is closed, and the only thing open is a bar. I went home, I figured I should share this with our SNEWS® readers so you could all laugh along with the 911 operator’s grandmother, the three fireman who showed up, everyone at Lakewood 911, etc. On the plus side, I did read two chapters in a book I had with me.
— Jim “I now carry bolt cutters in my car” Moss