February 2013


Locked Out.

This afternoon I couldn’t get into my office – the key just would not turn. No matter how hard I tried.

It was a bit inconvenient as I actually wanted to go home, but my coat was still inside the office.

Not sure what to do, I popped down to the nearby administrative assistant and said (in German), my key doesn’t work – this is, surprisingly, a bit difficult to communicate, namely because how often do you hear somebody actually say this in any language?

Briefly I was taken back to the day that I tried to explain to another administrative assistant that I had just found a homeless man sleeping in the printer room – actually that was a lot more difficult to explain because I had just locked myself into my office and had started dialing numbers randomly because it was early on a Monday morning and I had no idea who was appropriate to call. Plus, I’d never tried to communicate such an idea in English or in German. The assistant understood everything I said, but ultimately it made no sense to her.

Fortunately, this time, there was somebody who was able to translate, although, by this time, the administrative assistant had comprehended what I had said and was on her way to try the door with her master-key.

Her master-key didn’t work, and the translating colleague informed me that this was a new way to fire me – I was no longer employed by the firm and that everything in the office belonged to them now.

“Even my jacket?”

Even my jacket, he explained.

Funny enough, losing my job had been the first thought to go through my mind the first time the door behaved a bit funny on me, about a week ago. Stupidly I hadn’t reported the problem back then because it wasn’t happening consistently and I was worried that if I complained and the Hausmeister stopped by to visit, that the door would work flawlessly, much like the car that makes a funny noise never makes it in front of the mechanic.

In the meantime the administrative assistant had called the Hausmeister who stopped by and discovered that his master-key too did not work – we’re now up to three. He called another Hausmeister, and by now, we’re up to four master-keys not working in my door.

They called the emergency service – and I was left to wander the building and visit colleagues – for what else was I going to do? It was too cold to go home without my jacket and I couldn’t work without my computer. In my meanderings, I encountered another colleague with a master-key (I must be the only person in the building whose key only opens the front door and my individual office door), and he was so intrigued by this that he too stopped by – five master-keys defeated.

What do you call a master who is defeated?

There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere, but I’m not up enough on marshal arts rankings to know.

Fortunately it took only about an hour from the time I reported the problem to the time that the emergency service arrived and fixed the problem, leaving me with a functional lock and an office smelling of WD-40 and other tools.

I grabbed my jacket, re-locked my door, and headed out.

3 comments to Locked Out.

  • Any problem which cannot be solved by WD-40 can be solved by duct tape. Any problem which cannot be solved by duct tape, can be solved by WD-40. Master keys do not solve problems. If the slave key doesn’t work, why should the master key? Have you Earthlings learned nothing since we took over your planet?

  • “Even my jacket, he explained.” Well, this was funny, a bit. But I see you survived the excitements of your life, again. 🙂

  • Prashanth

    “marshal arts” LOL!
    Does “SB” or “Shaw Brothers” mean anything to you? 😛

    .. any way 🙂 A quick google found me this information on Shaolin traditions on defeated masters: “A challenger defeats a master. The best student of the defeated master travels all over the country to find the counter-technique.”

    So, your Hausmeister needs to send his apprentice to find a counter-technique to open the door by force 🙂