Jelena and Calvin are the only ones who don’t know this yet, but as Jelena at least reads this blog, I might as well go on.
As of 20:15 tonight, the building above Groningen’s outdoor public pool where our studio is is empty of people, and effectively sealed. I know this because Jeroen called me at home at a little before eight to ask for advice on how to get Josje out of there. Since the public pool below the studios was still open, I suggested that she might be able to get out through the winding platform at the back, swinging herself around the edges of the big metal barricade that separates the pool grounds from the office block. I’ve done this, and I’m not particularly flexible, strong or brave; however, I also said she should only tried this if she was absolutely confident she could do it. I was relieved to hear a few minutes later that there were still some pool staff around and one of them had helped her out with a stepladder. Jeroen and Josje then rang all the intercoms to see if there were still people inside, as this would have been their last chance to get out.*)
We’ve all been waiting for this to happen. As early as last Thursday, the outside gate door couldn’t be opened from the outside once it had fallen shut, so people had taken to taping over the mortice latch so the door wouldn’t fall shut. Of course, tape breaks and has to be replaced, and forcing the door open isn’t good for security.
On Monday I called the owners, a Groningen housing corporation, to ask them to fix this. On Tuesday, I called them again, and this time, one showed up. He soon left again, because locks weren’t his area of expertise. Yesterday, a damage assessor came by to check the condition of the lock.
The repairman who came by on Tuesday did one thing that on the surface seemed cleverer and more elegant than taping over the mortice latch – he turned the lock outward while the door was open so it couldn’t close. An obvious idea that I’ve used in the past when I absolutely needed a door kept open. However, someone left the building today and turned the lock back inward, then closed it behind him. When Josje wanted to leave a few hours later, the door wouldn’t open.
So… tomorrow we’ll all be raising a stink about this, because there’s several dozen people working in there and none of them will be able to get in. Until then, don’t be surprised if you arrive to find the door closed. If you absolutely must get in, bring gloves, and beware that you may not easily be able to get out again.
*) Well…. there’s at least one way to get in, without breaking anything, but you need sturdy gloves, confidence and a lack of concern about getting your trousers ripped. From the outside, the swing-yourself-around-the barricade method only works if a) you’re already past the outside fence surrounding the pool and b) one of the back corridoor doors is wedged open or someone will respond to your knocking. But you can get in from the front by climbing on the mailboxes and then over the fence with the rotating pointy things. I’ve done this one time when I locked myself out, but only so I could get to the front door, pull out my keys, and get out again the normal way. This, however, is why it’s essential that people lock the corridor doors on the front.
(I should point out in case people criticise me for revealing this information on how to enter this building, that there is such a thing as too much security. If I hadn’t been able to get in this way, I would have left the door locked from the inside at a time when there was no one else in. This would have resulted in several dozen people losing productive time – the same situation we’re likely to be in tomorrow. As long as people lock the corridoor doors at the front, the building’s secure.)