How to go from Dumbass to MacGyver




Da da dah da da da da daa dah…  ok that is the Mission Impossible theme.  What can I say, my grandfather loved it.  

The following is a true story…

The facts:

·        I am feeding my friend’s cats while they are on vacation

·        The litter boxes are in their basement

The story: 

Upon entering the house, I remove my boots so as not to get the snow, just beginning to fall, all over.  I say hello to the adorable kitties, drop my bag and keys on the kitchen counter.  I go about my business:  fill up food bowls, check.  Change the water, check.  Set up the feeder to go off again at 8pm, check.  Then it’s time to go down to the basement to clean the litter boxes.  No problem.  I take care of business, return up the stairs to the basement door, turn the knob and…..  it’s locked. 

WHAT?  It’s fucking locked?!?  I’m in the basement and the door is fucking locked.  This is not happening.  I smack my pockets.  OH!  My phone is in my bag, upstairs on the kitchen counter.  Damn it!    The lock has a key!   My keychain with their keys is on the kitchen counter.  FUCK.

No… this is NOT happening.   I am not locked in the basement.  

I go downstairs and look around, then return upstairs and try the knob because again…  I’m NOT locked in the basement.  

Fucking A.  I am locked in the basement.   

{Deep breaths… deep breaths}.  No one is coming here today and I have no way to communicate out.

This is still not happening.  I’m not locked in the basement!  And I’m certainly not locked in the basement, where there is no food and it’s quite chilly!  

Ok.  Maybe there is a door to the garage somewhere down here.  Interesting fact:  basements are underground.  Garages are usually not.  This house falls into the not category.  

Maybe there is a phone down here.  I can call someone!  There are not one, but two, other people who I know have keys.  It doesn’t faze me that I wouldn’t be able to call them because I don’t know anyone’s number anymore, it’s all in my cell phone which is IN MY BAG, on the COUNTER upstairs.  I’ll call Information.  Does Information still exist?   I lurch around aimlessly… phone here?  Phone there?   Phone NOWHERE!  

It’s ok.  This is not happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

I return up the stairs and try the door again.  Apparently, I am still… locked in the basement.  

Maybe this has happened to them before and they have hidden a key around for this express purpose!    I look under rugs, go through random baskets of nonsense, even look in hats.  I go through the pockets of some coats hanging down there.  You never know!  I feel bad about this, but at least I can tell her where her sunglasses are in case she is looking for them.  But no key.

It’s ok.  This is NOT happening.  I am not locked in the basement. 

Except I am locked in the basement.  Ok, what next?   I check out the water heater room.  There is a ladder.  That could be handy.  And a stocked wine rack!   Thank goodness.  Now I know I won’t die. 

I investigate the other room. It’s a tool room!  Her husband has a room full of tools!   But even better: there is a window in here!   It’s a mere foot above my head!   So what that it’s small.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.   I drag the ladder in and climb up.   Hmmm…. There are not one, not two, but three sliding windows and a screen on this tiny window!  It looked like this:

I could barely fit through this window if fully open.  The options appear to be removing the windows or sliding open one window and squishing through half the window.   

Let’s consider other options.  

I return to the main room.  Another window!  Only one opening!   I drag the ladder over, climb up and attempt to open the window.   I could get through this.  It wouldn’t be pretty, but I could do it.  I open the window, it opens from the top down, like this:

WHY?    If it opened from the bottom up, I could possible shimmy under the open window.  With top down I’d be forced to climb over the glass and put my whole weight on it.   I imagine this going one of three ways:

1.      I get stuck and must yell for help to the surely multitude of people walking by in a snow storm.  

2.      The glass breaks and though I’m bleeding, I escape alive.  The house is now open season for burglars.  Only later do I realize that any burglar that went through the window would also end up locked in the basement… and they would deserve it!

3.      I remove the window, even though it has weird screws that I’ve never seen before, and escape with ease.  At that point, I’d be outside, in my socks, in the snow, with no keys, no phone and no identification.  I’d be a person who didn’t exist.  I’d be forced to knock on neighbors’ doors and explain this.  

None of these options are appealing. 

It’s ok.  This is not happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

Now a rational person might take a breath and think:  ok, let’s make a plan.  What are you going to do?   All I could think was:   I’ve got to get out of here!  I suppose the worst-case scenario is I’m here for 24 – 32 hours until someone comes home.  I look around.  I would have nothing to do!   No phone, no tv, no radio, no books, no… nothing.  Except the wine rack… NO.  I have to get out of here!  I won’t make it solitary!  This is why I don’t commit crimes (among many other reasons).   

I look around.  What materials are here that I can use?   What else can I do?   WAIT!  Is that a paperclip on the floor?   Get OUT!   I grab it, run up the stairs.  I’m going to jimmy this lock like they do in the movies!   Come on paperclip, get it done!   

I have no jimmy-ing skills.  None, zip, zero.   I’m still locked in the basement.    Why didn’t I ever learn how to pick a lock??   Maybe I can Google how to pick a lock!   Note:  you can!   If only I had my phone, which is in my bag on the kitchen counter.   Damn it!  

I take another look around.   People kick doors with locks open on tv all the time!  It’s just as easy as using the paperclip, which I’ve shown no ability to do.  However, the door is directly at the top of the stairs.  I visualize myself kicking, then falling backward down the stairs, being found days later in a pool of my own blood.  This is undesirable. 

It’s ok.  This isn’t happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

I return downstairs and up the ladder again to look out the window.  So peaceful, the snow is slowly falling, creating a winter wonderland.  Maybe a neighbor will stroll by and I can yell to them.  Maybe that neighbor will be the one I know also has a key or will be able to get that neighbor.  The snow comes down and all is quiet.  I watch quietly for a few minutes.  It’s entirely possible no one will come by for hours and hours and hours and hours!   It’s snowing.   Did I mention we were about to get 8 – 12”?   Everyone is inside, buckling down.  Not outside, wandering about in case their neighbors’ crazy friend has locked herself in the basement and is now yelling out the window for help.  

Eventually I’m going to have to go to the bathroom.   Don’t think about that!

I return to stare at the smaller window.  Nope. Still not going to work. 

That’s it!   I’m getting out of here!   I’m going to have to break that friggin’ lock.  What can I use?    I return to the tool room.   My hands fly everywhere. Tool drawers!   Display like thing guys use to hang up tools!  Shelves. So many options!   Pliers, that thing you use to scrape off paint, metal things that I don’t know what they are, screw drivers.  Screwdriver?  Can I just unscrew this MF?   

I can’t just unscrew the MF.   Which makes sense.  If you could, it wouldn’t be much of a lock, would it?   So I go to work on the lock.  I can DO this!   I’ve never, not one time, seen MacGyver… but I have seen MacGruber (the skit, not the film.  Come on, give me some credit).  I can DO this.   Whatever this metal stick is with a hook like thing on the end, I can use it to pry the lock off.   What if I break the lock and it’s not un-lockable?   I’m in no worse shape than I am now.  I’m getting out of here!!   I pry and pry and pry and pry.  

The phone rings upstairs.  It’s probably my friends asking me if I’ve died.  I wonder if the alarm company has alerted them that someone is breaking this dumb lock.  Could it be?  Could they call someone to get me out?   No, I turned off the alarm when I came in.  The phone stops ringing.  Sigh.  I look at the lock.  You flimsy little thing.  I can bust out of this.  I can DO this!   I pry and pry and try the screwdriver and return to my new best friend, the metal thing with the hook ending.  I jiggle and pry, then pry and jiggle the lock around.  I rip part of the door around the knob off.  Whoops!   Amazing the door seems only solid right around the frame and knob.  They don’t make things like they used to.  Even in crisis, a cliché is no help.   I jiggle, I jangle, I bang I push and voila!   The lock gives just enough to let me out.  


I’m NOT locked in the basement!  I won’t die in the cold, alone on a basement floor after only drinking wine for 24 hours and having nowhere to go to the bathroom!    

I am motherfucking MacGyver!   

And that is how you go from dumbass who doesn’t check if a doorknob is locked to MacGyver. 


See…it really was ok.  This didn’t happen.  I was NOT locked in the basement.   Except that I was and I figured out how to get out by busting stuff up.  Feminism!   Safety locks are for dudes!

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