For about a period of five minutes, I was trapped inside a washroom stall at work on Friday around 6pm. I had gone to urinate in one of the washrooms near the cafeteria. These are individual stalls with walls that go from the floor to ceiling, same with the doors. They’re quite amazing really and the best place to go do your business.
My plan was to go pee and then catch a ride home with one of my co-workers. I had finished my business and went to unlock the door. The lock itself is a deadbolt style lock. I spun the latch to pull the deadbolt from the frame of the door but to my surprise, the deadbolt still had a significant amount to go before it was free of the frame. I couldn’t turn the lock any further though. Damn. I turned the latch back to the lock position and then tried again. I was met with the same result as before. It was stuck in the locked position.
There was a slight panic rising in me by now. It was getting late in the day and since it was a Friday, people were leaving for the weekend. I didn’t have my phone with me, so I couldn’t contact anyone via that method if I needed to. I could hear some people in the walking around outside, washing their hands at the sink. Should I yell for help or bang on the door? I contemplated that for a few seconds but I decided I needed to try again.
Could I use something to perhaps help move the deadbolt back? A credit card or something? As I looked into the gap between the door and the frame, I realized if you could defeat a deadbolt that easily with a credit card, people wouldn’t really be using deadbolts then.
I had to try the lock one more time. I spun it closed and then with great speed and force, I turned the latch back the other way again. It opened! I didn’t realize it at the time but now days later, I was also pushing against the door, which helped free the deadbolt from rubbing up against the strike plate. I think it was this friction that was keeping the bolt from moving back the whole way.
Relief washed over me and I quickly opened the door to freedom. I was outside! I went to the sink to wash my hands. I briefly thought about informing security about the possible death trap but my ride was leaving soon. I was hoping since it was late Friday, there would be very few people using that stall.
Now that I think about it, I regret not mentioning it to security as what if someone else did go in there and also get trapped. I’ll submit a facilities ticket on Monday so it gets looked at.