It’s been a while since I held my annual Christmas tree decorating and dinner party with my oldest, dearest friends. Sadly, the pandemic altered those plans for 2 years. But not this year…
Last Sunday, in anticipation of tonight’s party, I hauled out half of my Christmas decorations from my shed. Yep, I used to go overboard. I’m guessing my massively illuminated yard was even visible to passengers on jetliners cruising by at 30,000 feet.
After I removed decorations from Rubbermaid totes to fill them with house decor, I lugged them out to the Tough Shed, followed by Fat Jack who always wants in on the action.
Here’s where I should mention the inside door handle somehow disappeared after installation many years ago (which I never bothered to replace). Big mistake. BIG. I realized this once I entered the shed and the door slammed behind me.
Now don’t get me wrong; the door has NEVER locked on its own. I force it by turning the outside handle until it clicks shut. But this time it inexplicably closed AND locked. I yelled, OH NO!, because my always-present iPhone was in the house.
Suddenly, I regretted not having a light installed because, although it was morning, it was almost pitch black inside other than daylight filtering through two air vents. Being claustrophobic, I heard myself say, “Don’t panic.” Then I strategized how to prevent being found dead weeks later, nearly fossilized, while curled up on one of the patio cushions stored for winter. Who would think to look for me in the shed?
Anyway, I felt in the corner for the metal tiki torches stacked against the wall. I grabbed one and used the pronged end to smash the hardware that once held the missing handle. But it didn’t budge. I tell ya, Tough Sheds are actually tough. So I stacked some totes to climb on and yelled through the vent to my neighbor, Irene. When that failed, I slid my finger between the door frame and piece of metal that kept the door locked. But there wasn’t enough room to get any leverage. So I went back to yelling for Irene.
I climbed back on top of the totes and, using the tiki torch again, kept hitting the vent until it broke open so I could stick my face partway out and yell for help again. No dice. Then I remembered a tool I had for packing down rock pathways. I felt around and found it in another corner, grabbed it, and started swinging at the door like an ax murderer. I even threw my body against it.
Then I swung at the door frame, hoping to remove a piece in order to lodge the tool between it and the hardware. I heard Fat Jack meowing outside the shed and thought of Lassie, a program I watched as a kid about a boy and his dog. Lassie was always rescuing Timmy. Folklore says Timmy once fell down a well. So Lassie runs home, barking frantically, and Timmy’s dad says, “What’s wrong, Lassie? Where’s Timmy?” Lassie continues barking. “You say he fell down a well?! Okay, girl, take me to him!” And off they run to save Timmy. Sadly, Fat Jack is no Lassie.
What felt like hours of captivity actually was 45 minutes before I managed to jam open the locked door with that rock packing tool, all the while chanting, “Come on, come on, come on.” Free at last! Relieved, I jubilantly re-entered my house to find my dogs lounging on the sofa, enjoying the blazing fire. They barely glanced my way, oblivious to my near-death experience. Jack was sound asleep, having given up on me earlier. And I thought, if only I’d adopted a collie, I’d have been free 44 minutes ago.