Under lock and key

3 weeks since my last post. It seems like such a long time ago considering the adventures I have here in Beijing.

3 weeks ago, about an hour after my previous post, I encountered a slightly unnerving situation here in Beijing. Specifically, in my flat. I discovered soon after my post that I had been locked inside my flat. Seemingly impossible you may think, but here in China…it’s not quite that impossible as my experience now indicates. Deciding to stay home while the rest of my flatmates went out shopping in a somewhat distant area from where we currently live, my friends decided to let me sleep in as they left our flat. They did the usual routine of locking what we call our zombie-apocalypse door as they left.

Sometime after they left, I woke up and indulged myself with a few movies, some yogurt and some blogging. When my stomach called out to me for lunch, I decided to further indulge myself with some McDonald’s delivery. After calling and indicating my order, I did a few chores around the “house”. You know, the usual things being independent calls for and whatnot. McDonald’s called me again to verify my address as they had gotten a bit lost, so in my somewhat basic Mandarin, I did my best to direct the caller towards my place of residence. Thought that was it, my food would be arriving soon. As I went to do my laundry, I heard a knock at the door and checked to see if it was my McDonald’s delivery. Sure enough it was, so I proceeded to get my wallet and open the door. That was when the incident happened.

After unlocking the bolt, I discovered that I could not open the lock. Various tries, pulling and re-locking/unlocking the bolt, I came to the conclusion that I had really been locked in my flat and could not open the door. As I was re-thinking how I could have been locked in, it dawned on me that when my flatmates locked the door from the outside, they had turned the key twice, not only normally locking the bolt (one turn is enough to lock it shut whilst still allowing it to be opened from the inside), but locking the door from the outside as to secure it (thus locking me in). So in my very lacking Mandarin, I tried to tell the delivery guy that I could not open the door due to some lock problems. I even called up the English hotline for the McDonald’s Beijing delivery service and tried to explain to the Chinese girl on the other side about my dilemma and how I wanted the delivery guy to go back because I couldn’t ask him to wait till my landlord got there (I had called my landlord to ask him to unlock the door from the outside) plus the smell of my food was wafting in through the cracks and I could feel it would take a while. I had just told the girl that I would just pay double for my next order as I also didn’t want to eat food that wasn’t that ‘fresh’.

Thirty minutes to an hour later, I heard a knock from the outside and assumed it was my landlord. Looking through the keyhole, I discovered it was someone else and thought it might be a locksmith or something. Using my cellphone to call my friends, I asked my flatmate to try to translate what the guy on the other side of the door was saying. After some confusion, I deciphered that he was telling me to give my friend’s cellphone number so he could talk to her directly. Speaking again with my friend, I discovered that it was the McDonald’s delivery guy on the other side and my friend directed me to throw the delivery guy my keys from the window so he could unlock me from the other side. So that’s just what happened.

Luckily, my flat is on the 4th floor so it’s not that far from the ground. Also, my flat is located towards the front of the building so throwing the keys from the window/patio would not be a big deal as it faces the road of the apartment complex. After throwing my keys and seeing it land on some grassy area, the McDonald’s delivery guy unlocked the door and I finally got my food (and got un-locked in).

Over-all, it was a strenuous event, but quite temporary really. I’m really not good with doors and locks in China as I’ve encountered quite a number of situations where-in I’ve gotten locked out of my room/flat. This was the first time I had been locked in though. Not quite the last though as during my recent trip to Inner Mongolia, I was temporarily locked inside my yurt. But that’s a story for another time.


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