Sunday, April 24, 2011

Report #24

(This story makes the most sense if you listen to part 2 of my last podcast)

It’s funny how we put things off…like the battery that you know your car needs and promise you’ll get soon, just after the engine barely turns over. You accept this lurking threat but keep hitting the snooze button of ‘later’ to prolong the inevitable. And then, when you go out one morning, it just clicks when you turn the key…and you think, damn, why didn’t I get the battery?

To append my last report, Podcast #3, the saga of the electro-magnetic door continues: it started working again. I noticed the LCD display next to the keypad was turned on last week. Someone had also taped cardboard over the metal part of the doorframe to keep the electromagnet from engaging. It seemed appropriately tailored to my needs; my key swab still didn’t work as I verified by swiping across the sensor and confirmed the audible quadruple-beep as ‘denied’. No problem, that’s why the cardboard is there…

A day later the big piece of cardboard had been traded for a smaller piece that wasn’t taped to anything, just wedged into a little gap in the frame. It still did the job, but looked sneaky and far less official. The next morning on my way to work the door was locked and the only way to exit the building was to hit the button to release the door for a few seconds. I looked down and saw the hopeless piece of cardboard on the ground. I naively wedged it back into its previous home, tested the door a few times, and left for the office. We were in the middle of deadline for the Lagos Hotel.


It’s one in the morning, and I’m in the exact same predicament as before. This time there are only two neighbors with lights on: the annoying neighbor and someone two floors below him. Now that I’m explicitly aware of my two neighbors apartment numbers I make sure to get it right this time. I dial the annoying neighbor and it just rings and rings and rings. I hang up, hating him even more. I sit. I think. I think about climbing. I think about electrical wires and why my building has so many and how they could be old and frayed. I call the annoying neighbor again and nothing happens. Then I watch his light go off and stay off. I try calling the neighbor at 303 and it rings and rings, and then someone picks up…

I run my script, the same one that worked last time.
“Ni hao, wo joo zai wu bai r how, kuyea kai ma?” (Hello, I live at 501, could you open?)
“Um, Ni hao, wo joo—“

Click. He hangs up.

I sat out front for thirty minutes not ready to accept the fact that I had put off the inevitable; that this wasn’t going to work, not twice. I had actually gone home early that night. Back at the office, 4 of my co-workers were still going hard. T.T, a Chinese girl with hair down to her waist, was acting as DJ and rocking out to her death metal music, which is basically fast drums and lots of growling. The other three, Flavia, Liqiang, and Ben just sat there motionless, staring at their computer screens, clicking away as if there was no music at all. It felt like I had walked into a dream. It was loud and certainly not conducive to sleep. I couldn’t bring myself to do work, at least not real work. Instead I cranked out an essay for an internship application that was due the next day, one that I had threatened myself I would get to but kept hitting the snooze button on.

Locked out of my apartment, sleep deprived, satanic growling in the background. Snoozing was no longer an option.

This story continues….