We were supposed to work together from 6.30 till 9.30. We were all pretty engrossed in our work when around 8.30 someone closed the door to our room, probably not noticing that we were inside. One of my team members cried out, "Are we being locked in?"
That panicked the others and one of the other guys went to the door and shook it. He couldn't open it. He knocked loudly on it from the inside with, "Hello? Hello??"
Then he tried the handle again and lo, it was open! Phew, what a sigh relief we all breathed. Could you imagine being locked in an empty London office at night!?
I should explain that this was not the usual venue for our class. Our class had overrun its time so we were using the institute's own offices to finish the over-budget work.
Well, anyway, we knew the work we had wasn't going to be finished tonight so we scheduled to meet again another evening and decided to call it a night about 9.45 since almost everybody had plans.
The teacher needed a hand with his equipment so laden with all his stuff, computers and whatnot we went down the stairs. Only to find that the main door was locked!
Well, the first impulse was to jiggle and jangle and pull and push and twist the doorknob. Nothing happening. I went up and tried the buzzer that opens the door when someone rings the bell. It worked but the there was another bolt operated by a key that was locked!
Next we started looking for a fire escape. We wandered around in the recesses of the building with our cellphone camera flashes for illumination but there was nothing we could use.
We were officially locked in!
We went upstairs and in the office where we were working found a couple of large windows that were not barred or locked. It was only an 8 feet jump to a hard pavement. Two or three of us were confident that we could jump that much. But it wouldn't help the others and what about the computer? So that was not even discussed.
Then started the hunt for information. A phone number. Any phone number that could get someone with a key to come and rescue us. We started calling people, direct, indirect, in-indirect contacts who could help. Finally, we found a business card with a mobile number of a person we knew would have the key.
The call was made. The estimate was 20 minutes of wait. Whew, not so bad!
Now where is the point of all this? The point is this - even though were locked in and almost everybody had something or someone to go to there was no real panic in the room. We were total 6 people and not one of us said, even once, "Oh, I am starving!" though we all were.
Nobody complained, nobody said, "Oh God! Why me?"
Instead we just settled back down into our chairs and chatted. One girl found the coffee and milk in the fridge and she made coffee for anyone who wanted. Not me, I am off caffeine as you know. And we all chatted about the projects we had done or we want to do and all around it.
One thing that was mentioned several times was that if we had just carried on working, we could have gotten more done. :)
Calls were made to partners, girlfriends, boyfriends and the situation explained.
And I was thinking, "Wow, these people are cool! They are not a bunch of grouches!" Indeed all of us just took it in our stride and enjoyed a chat with colleagues.
That's my whole point - circumstances happen to all of us, how we react to them decides what we take away from them. Personally, I benefitted immensely from that lockout, I learnt some more stuff, I got some networking opportunities that I would not have gotten had we just walked out and gone our separate ways. I wouldn't be surprised if in the recent future I get some wonderful opportunities that can be traced back to this one instance!
In the end, it was not 20 minutes, but finally at 10.55 that person came to rescue us with the key but did we mind it? Nah!