Sunday, June 23, 2013


Sometimes I worry about getting trapped here. Not detained, just plain trapped. For example, at Philharmony, the Opera House and the Circus, they only ever unlock one of many front doors. This limits inflow for the convenience of the ticket takers, but it also means a pretty slow exit. I like to pretend that there’s a crack team of highly-trained ushers ready to unlock the rest of the doors at the first indication of trouble, but I don’t really believe it.

I have been trapped for real two times. The first time, I got trapped in the bedroom with Alla. You might imagine that it’s pleasant to be trapped in the bedroom with one’s wife, but I didn’t really like it at the moment. I just wanted to go to church, and somehow a puff of wind blew the bedroom door shut and the worn-out door handle wouldn’t turn far enough to disengage the latch from the strike plate. We had no tools in the bedroom, no telephone, nor even a spare key to throw down to a passer-by. Fortunately I had a little Swiss Army knife and I managed to dismantle the handle with the nail-file blade, thus allowing me to turn the door handle past its intended stop point. The latch got permanently stuck inside the door, which suits me just fine. To be really sure we’d never get trapped again, I also filled the strike plate with paper and covered the hole with tape.

This evening I had my second entrapment. I came home from dancing at around 10:45. We’re far enough north that the night sky hadn’t gone dark yet and I decided to walk home across Gorky Park. Before entering the park I thought about whether I felt safe alone there at that hour, and decided it seemed fine. I saw two or three couples strolling the other way and the walk seemed entirely normal until I reached the gate near our apartment. The gate was locked, for the first time in my experience.

Not too happy, I walked along the fence to the next gate, which I’ve seen closed before. Sure enough, it was closed again. This gate has a flat top and it’s only about as tall as I am, so I thought about scaling it. But remembering the strong police presence on that street and the multiple video cameras, I decided against it and walked down to the main gate. Now I became concerned because the main gate was also locked. Another guy in the park pointed out that we could get out by going through the tunnel under the avenue on the edge of the park, but that would be so far from home that it feels like (and may actually be) the next district. I decided to go over the low stone wall on the edge of the park facing the avenue, which I could do without getting my pants dirty.

On my way home I saw another couple at the gate I’d considered scaling. I warned them that they wouldn’t be able to get out the main gate either, so the woman proceeded to climb over the gate. She did it pretty easily, taking advantage of decorative ironwork forming good footholds. Her husband had been drinking enough that he had a little more trouble with it, but he succeeded too.

I saw other people as I continued home, and warned all of them through the fence. Apparently this evening’s lockdown came as a surprise to a lot of people. I’m wondering what happened to the crack team of ushers, or at least why some cop didn’t come to complain about all the people climbing over fences.

I guess I’ll take the subway home next time.

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