I saved a baby from a burning building.
Ok, well, the building wasn’t on fire, but it felt like it.
Regardless, there was still a baby that needed saving and I jumped into action.
Hero – The Knock
Late at night, I was sitting at home watching reruns of Sailor Moon, when I heard a panicked knock on my door.
Obviously, I ignored it.
Only psychopaths knock on doors that way, and I didn’t want to meet them.
Unfortunately, the knocking pounded again before I could even dip a tortilla chip for a second round of queso.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. Geez. Crazy psychopath. Give me a minute.”
I like lounging around in my underwear, so I needed a minute to toss on running shorts, a plain t-shirt, and flip-flops.
I answered the door, and there staring me in the face was the image of the most frightened girl I had seen in my entire life.
You know when someone’s about to cry – they have that puppy-dog look in their eyes – that’s how she pleaded to me, for desperate help, without ever saying a word.
“I’m your neighbor,” she explained, pointing to the door across the hall.
“Hi,” I said, perplexed. I had never seen her before.
I didn’t know if she needed to borrow sugar, or if she desperately needed to sell her last batch of girl scout cookies – because we all know what slave-drivers those women scoutmasters can be.
“My baby is locked inside my house,” she said in tears.
How is that even possible?
She continued, “I ran out to get groceries from my car, and left him inside. He must have managed to crawl up the door and grab the deadbolt.”
“Don’t you have the key?”
“There is no key. The deadbolt is only accessible from the inside. And my cellphone is in there. I wanted to borrow your phone to call my boyfriend at work.”
Wow. What a bizarre set of circumstances.
“What’s your boyfriend going to do about it?” I asked.
“I don’t know what to do,” she cried. “It’s his name on the lease. I need help.”
“I’ll help you,” I said. “But your boyfriend can’t do anything if there’s no key.”
What the heck? How do I get a baby out of a locked door on the second floor of an apartment building?
My mind raced into solution-mode. How could I launch myself into that room and free the kid?
“This is what we’re going to do,” I said. “We can either call the property maintenance man, and see if he has access. Or we can call the cops, but they’re going to break your door open.”
“Can we do both?” She asked.
Hero – The Call
I ducked back inside to grab my lease paperwork. The maintenance number was there, but we were practically on speed dial at this point, because the building was assembled using tooth-picks and rubber cement – that place sucked.
It was 10 PM, but I called him anyway, because it was an emergency.
“What do you want?” He answered grumpily.
“My neighbor’s baby is locked inside the apartment,” I explained.
“Can’t you unlock the door?”
“There’s no key,” I said. “It’s the deadbolt. It’s only accessible from the inside.”
“Doo-doo,” he had more creative language, but the essence is there. “That’s right. Sorry dude,” he continued. “If this is an emergency you need to call the police.” He hung up.
“He can’t help,” I told the panicked girl. “I’m calling 911. You don’t mind if they bust down your door?”
“What’s that going to cost to repair?” She asked.
I shrugged my shoulders – but only because that’s the answer I give to all questions.
$1. $10. $100. $1000. Who knows? Do you want your baby back or not?
Hero – The Emergency
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“There’s a baby locked in a house and there’s no key,” I said again.
“Can’t you pick the lock? If we send the fire department they’re going to destroy the door.”
I was sick of explaining the asinine circumstances at this point.
“Do it. Break it down.”
She hung up on me. What was with these people?
I was about to give my phone to the girl, so she could at least give her boyfriend an update – but my phone turned into a useless brick.
911 took over the phone. It changed into “emergency mode” and was like a GPS tracking beacon.
“Hang onto this,” I told the girl. “When this turns off, or the cops get here, you can call your boyfriend. But in the meantime, do you think any of your windows are unlocked?”
“They’re not. They’re all shut.”
Geez woman. Throw me a bone. You live on the second floor. It’s not like anyone is going to crawl up there and rob you.
Except for me. Because that’s exactly that I did next.
“I’m still going to check,” I said. “If the cops get here, they’re going to bust the door open like a scene from Die Hard.”
I didn’t know what to imagine. Cops with battering rams? Explosive devices? How do you open a door without a key? Kick it open? No.
I didn’t have a ladder. But I’m friggin’ 6 feet tall and built like a spider monkey.
I needed to climb to reach her balcony.
I kicked off my flip-flops – useless footwear – and brought the tallest thing I could find – the bar stool from my house. I scrambled up that thing, and then circus climbed up to her railing and pulled myself onto the balcony.
I could then look into her apartment. Her baby – a toddler – was leaning against the front door, waiting for his mom to return.
“Holy cow,” I said.
I checked the slider – locked. And a window – double locked. Dang it. Should I bust a window open? What’s the cost of a broken window vs. a broken door? Did it even matter at this point?
We heard sirens in the distance. They were close.
She was finally on the phone with her boyfriend. He said, “I’m at work. What do you want me to do about it? Call the police.”
Hero – The Help
I shouted down to her, “I can see your baby,” I said. “He’s alright. He’s sucking his thumb. I’m going to stay up here though. If they break that door I can make sure he’s far away from it.”
That felt like a weird plan. I’d be hanging out on a balcony while the cops showed up. Suspicious at best. But I also didn’t have a way back down. I’d probably break my neck.
The cops came, and the fire department too. I could hear the conversation as the lady explained.
“Can’t you get a spare key?” They asked.
Geez. Everyone was collectively full of unhelpful solutions.
“Alright, we’ll bust the door open. Get the Jaws of Life.”
I didn’t even know what the Jaws of Life were before that. I had heard about it, but never seen it. It’s a tool the fire department uses to pry open wrecked cars and wiggle people free.
I looks like a robot claw. Add some missiles to that sucker and it’d be a sweet Transformer hand.
As they got the claw ready, a cop shined his flashlight on me and into the bushes below, checking out my cool barstool.
I stood there, half-naked, shoeless, and a t-shirt. I looked like a trailer park redneck.
“What are you doing up there?” He asked.
“Tring to save the baby.” Idiot. What a moron.
“Come down from there,” he ordered me.
“How about you open the slider and let me in,” I said back.
He wrinkled his mustache and considered my logic. Then he silently disappeared to finish a donut.
The fire department was awesome though and worked quickly.
I couldn’t see from their vantage point – as I was obviously on the balcony – but I slowly saw the wall begin to bend and the door creek wide open.
The baby scattered too. As soon as they powered up the machine, it sounded like a chainsaw, the baby ran away and hid on the couch.
“He’s ok,” I yelled below. The girl demanded updates every ten seconds on her child’s vital signs.
And the door finally burst open. It did look like an explosion – but the sidewall, that thing bent in a way a wall shouldn’t.
Replacing a door seemed straightforward, but the maintenance man was going to have an aneurism trying to fix that screwy wall.
That’s what he gets for being a jerk.
Hero – The Thanks
The cops entered the apartment and made sure everything was fine. The girl pushed passed and swooped up her child.
Everything was fine. It was going to be ok.
They mingled about, relieved about the safety of the child, and chatted among themselves – they had enough time to break out champagne and serve shrimp cocktail.
“Hey, I’m still out here. Let me in,” I shouted and banged on the slider glass window.
Like seriously, they were totally going to leave me out there.
Finally, I scampered through the destruction, and with bare feet, tiptoed VERY carefully like John McLane, hobbling over broken shards of glass – that’s a Die Hard reference.
That’s the thanks heroes get, a bunch of splitters and bloody feet.
I gingerly hobbled back downstairs, got my barstool back, and found my phone tossed in the grass.
Then I rudely pushed by all the emergency crew milling about by my door.
I sat back down, tired and exhausted, and resumed my anime episode which had been rudely interrupted.
An hour later my wife came home.
“Why does our neighbor have police line tape across their wall? And where’s their front door?”
“I did that,” I said. “I had to save a baby.”