Meetings held at city hall in a board room are new to me. The first week I asked the clerk for directions to the board room. She went into a flutter about me getting buzzed in and how the security system would work since the meeting would end after hours. Yawn. In the midst of her nattering I managed to secure directions to the board room. Another yawn for uptight people.
For meeting number two, I knew my way and could gratefully avoid Ms. Nervous Nellie. What I couldn’t avoid was the time ticking by on my watch. I needed to leave in time to arrive home 20 minutes ahead of the two guests I’d invited for dinner. The meeting dragged unnecessarily, I thought. Finally, I decided that the agenda pertaining to me was covered. I waved a polite goodbye and slipped out later than hoped.
Down the stairs I trotted, past the closed offices of all the clerks, nervous Nellie included, down some more stairs, across more hallway, and into the foyer. I congratulated myself on my successful escape as I pushed at the door separating me from fresh air. The metal in the door made clicking sounds at me, but the door did not move. I tried again because obviously it was the door’s job to open when I pushed it. The chance to push it was in fact the entire reasons I was standing there.
When that didn’t work, I pushed the wheelchair button so electronics could take over and open the door for me. The door rattled more loudly but moved not. Frustrated, I turned to go back from whence I’d come but the door behind me was locked as well.
So there I was. In a glass foyer with locked doors on all four sides. Panic one was the dinner. Guests would be arriving at a home tornadoed by my family and without anyone in it. After ten minutes, panic two became the possibility that the people from my meeting might know a way out of the building that did not involve passing by my new glass cage.
Anytime the building creaked, I looked and banged something in case an errant clerk was working overtime. Otherwise I kept my eye on the frustratingly deserted sidewalk and shook my head that none of Nervous Nellie’s bosses had listened to her when she said there would be a problem with the security system if the meeting went after hours. I wrote a list of people’s names from the meeting to hold up to the glass. I didn’t know their cell numbers but maybe someone walking by would.
I watched glumly as 3 or 4 people finally came by. Why aren’t you trying to get their attention? I asked myself. Because they don’t look like they own a cell phone, I replied. I’m not sure by what algorithm I, who does not own a cell phone, was crossing off matches for potential rescuer. At last a woman sure to own a phone saw me and approached the door.
Are you closed? she wanted to know.
Yes, I yelled back through the glass. Everything is closed. I’m actually locked in here. Do you have a cell phone?
No, she said.
That’s okay, I yelled back smiling. Someone will come.
I must have been convincing. She nodded and left.
Twenty minutes later, the meeting I’d left in a hurry disbanded. I was found, blood pressure high and late for dinner. I arrived home just before my guests and did what you can do to undo a tornado in 90 seconds. In other words, not much. They were gracious, stayed in the kitchen, and never asked to use the bathroom. I kept my face responding appropriately to questions raised, while mightily distracted by meditations on fish bowls, glass cages, and how especially strange it is to be trapped where you can clearly see everything you want to get to.