I'm finally living in my own apartment after a hellish year in the dorms where I went through 3 sets of roommates. The first set almost got me thrown out of college because one girl was evil and hated me because I had my own bedroom, and she had to share. The next roommates were really nice, but they all did jimson weed one night, freaked out, ended up in the ER, almost died, and got thrown out of the dorms. The third roommate was awesome, but after the year was over, I did not want to risk another bad roommate experience.
My apartment is in an iffy neighborhood between Center City and South Philly. It's a ground floor one bedroom with bars on the windows and a pay phone connected to the front, and is next door to a pizza place on one side and a convenience store on the other. My new best friend who is in my major only lives half a block away, above a Jamaican restaurant run by an older lady named Mama.
At night, the drug dealers are out in force. There are a couple who hang out right outside my windows. But they don't bother me. I leave Philly every weekend to go home, and when I pack or unpack my car, I know they will watch it for me. I can leave it wide open with the keys in the ignition and no one will touch it. They know that if they need to, they can knock on my window and I will open the door and let them out into the back alley. It may not be the smartest thing I've done, but it's working.
After class one day, I go home, drop my books inside, and run to get some pizza next door. I chat with two police officers who patrol my area. One shows me all the crap on his belt. The only thing he doesn't let me touch is his gun. I eat my pizza and go home. My building door is open. My apartment door is not. I swear I left it unlocked, since I was only leaving for a few minutes.
I peer inside through the windows. They're open. I see my keys, sitting in my bag on the couch. I try to maneuver my arm through the bars to see if I can reach them. I am so close, but I can't. My cats come the window, purring. I pet them as I wonder what to do next.
I go to my friend's apartment. We go back and try to get the door open with a credit card. No luck. We ask Mama if she can help, and she tries to get the door open with a giant kitchen knife (which worked to open my friend's door when she got locked out-Mama was very helpful), but we can't open it.
I borrow my friend's phone and call a locksmith. He tells me it will be 4 hours before he gets there. What the heck am I supposed to do until then? I go up to the second floor of my building and ask my neighbor to come help. He tries the credit card thing again with no luck. He tries for a good hour before he gives up.
The more we try, the more annoyed I get for locking myself out. It's a 3 ring circus in front of my door. There are now 6 people trying to figure out how to open it for me. My friend gets a call from another kid in our major, and when she tells him what is going on, he comes to my apartment also.
He tells me he will open my door with a credit card. I tell him we have tried that so many times and it hasn't worked. He takes out his school ID card and starts working at the door. Two tries later, the door opens. The door opens. He actually unlocked it. He did what the rest of us tried and failed to do.
I am so grateful. I'm thrilled I can get into my apartment. I buy him and my other friend dinner. Life is awesome again.
This was written in response to a prompt from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. The prompt was Locked Out.