Monday, May 17, 2004

Oh... that's nice.
theHubby Sends this tale in:


Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In the early 90’s I worked for a small production
company as a graphic artist. Now, when I say small -
I mean there were two of us. Basically the other guy
(theGaffer) was self-employed and I hung around to get
my feet wet in the advertising biz.

Our landlord, a woman that thought of herself as the
female Donald Trump, owned the office (the office
complex, rather) that we rented. The office was
actually more like a storage closet at the very end of
an endless hallway right next to the bathroom.
Business was not exactly booming and as a result we
had gotten behind on the rent.

The Ogre landlord called TheGaffer at home early one
morning and informed him that the rent was late and
that she needed payment immediately. Luckily for us,
TheGaffer had just landed a big project. While
explaining this to her he said that he would run down
to the office so he could cut her a check, and he
would have it to her that afternoon. The Ogre informed
him that going to his office would be impossible. She
had locked us out of the office. Again, TheGaffer
explained that he understood about being late on the
rent and would pay whatever late fees she wanted but
in order for him to get her the check he was going to
have to get in the office. She wouldn’t budge. She
would not let us in. Even though the rent she wanted
was behind the locked door, she wouldn’t open it.
They went round and round until TheGaffer was nearly
homicidal – Actually, he was homicidal. What to do?
Not only was the rent behind the locked door, but so
was the entire business – our source of income.

So – with nothing to lose, and being a little
criminally inclined anyway, we hatched a plan. A

So here’s the plan. You see we were locked out of our
office but we were NOT locked out of the building.
Remember - our office was the storage closet next to
the bathroom. That was the beauty of the whole thing
and the very thing that would be the ogre’s undoing.

So, around 2 a.m. we set off into the night, in search
of justice. We were in my car, a late model Nissan
Sentra, gunmetal grey - the perfect get-away car. We
were armed with a flashlight and adrenaline to spare.
On our way we discussed whether or not the Ogre would
have changed the locks to the building. It would have
been a lot of trouble for her and probably not very
likely but we wouldn’t have put it passed her. We
arrived and tried the key. It opened. We were in.

The office building was one of those that’s laid out
like a maze. Only the front offices had windows so as
soon as you get passed them your only source of light
is the cheapest fluorescent lights money can buy. But
of course we didn’t turn the lights on, so we were
running down these halls blind as bats. It was pitch.
We were navigating by pure instinct and memory but
finally we had reached our destination. We were now
so far back in the bowels of the building that we
decided we could risk a little light. We found the
bathroom, flicked the light on and propped the door
open, which allowed us to see our office door.

And there it was. The LockBox.

The LockBox was a metal box that basically hung on the
doorknob and completely covered it so you couldn’t get
your key in the keyhole. We tried in vain to jimmy the
thing off but it just sort of spun around the
doorknob. It was time for phase 2 of Operation Office

We went into the bathroom. Phase 2 involved real cat
burglar work. The idea was for theGaffer to boost me
up the wall (adjacent to our office) and I was to
climb over the wall through the false ceiling. Seemed
simple enough but the actual boosting was harder than
we thought. Before it was all over I’m standing on
the Gaffer’s shoulders, while he’s trying to balance
on a trash can.

I finally was able to move the acoustic paneling and
lift myself up into the ceiling. I went forward a
couple of feet towards our office (terrified that I
would fall through the ceiling and set off an alarm or
something) and removed a ceiling tile. A pit of
darkness waited for me below. I was hesitant at first
because I wanted to be sure that this dark hole I was
about to jump into was, in fact, our office and not
some unknown part of the building. By this time
theGaffer had already been hurling a not stop stream
of hushed queries up into the ceiling. "How’s it
going?", "Can you see anything?", etc. Then I saw it.
A small glow that came from the keyboard of
theGaffer’s old Apple IIe. It was a rush – we just
might pull this off. I "whisper-yelled" down towards
the bathroom to theGaffer, "We’re in".

I was now faced with the task of jumping down into the darkness. I ended up landing on my drafting table, which conveniently was slanted and acted as a slide. The next thing I knew I was standing in our office trying to find the light switch.

TheGaffer still to this day recounts the feeling that
he got as he watched light suddenly stream out from
beneath our office door. He heard me fumbling with
the lock from the other side, and then the door
opened. At that moment he knew we had won. The Ogre
had been defeated.

We quickly started to pack up everything we needed to
run the business and realized that in order to get it
all we were going to have to make several trips (the
get-away car was a sentra, remember). Then, theGaffer
had a stroke of absolute genius.

You see, we didn’t need to get everything. In fact,
we didn’t need to get anything at all. The LockBox
was still on the door, only now the door wasn’t
locked. As long as we could turn the handle, we could
come and go as we pleased. So we gave it a try.
TheGaffer shut the office door from the outside and
then tried to open it. He found that if you pulled
the LockBox and turned it, it would turn the door
handle, and since the door had been unlocked from the
other side, it would open – no problem. This was an
unexpected bonus beyond our hopes. We could continue
to use our office for the time being and the Ogre
would never know. She would look down that long hall
and see her pretty little LockBox and think she still
had the upper hand. Of course we would have to get our
stuff out pretty soon but this bought us some time…
days… maybe even a couple of weeks. It was brilliant.

We ended up taking some things home that night – a
computer and a table that we had borrowed from someone
else. The table wouldn’t fit in the get-away car so I
hung out the passenger window and held the table next
to the car – the whole way home. Whenever I think of
that scene; a car flying down the dark streets at 3
a.m. with a guy hanging onto a table outside the car,
it makes me grin an evil grin.

Oh, what about the rent? We made her sweat it for at
least a couple more weeks.

And theGaffer? Well, after a few years our careers
went in separate directions… But, I ended up marrying
his daughter. :-)

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