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Yesterday I got stuck in a bathroom.

It was in the building on Rue St. Roch where I go for my operetta class, right near the Palais Garnier. This building reminds me a lot of college, actually; it’s six floors of rentable practice and rehearsal spaces, and you can hear music floating out of even the closed doors.

It’s also incredibly old (again, rather like the music building at Northwestern). So I locked the door to the bathroom when I went in, did my business, washed my hands, and went to unlock it…and the lock, being ancient, was stuck fast.

After about ten minutes I was still tearing at the lock. I had worked up a pretty solid blister on my right pointer finger, and I could hear a guy in my class singing this:

Il fatto è serio! I’m stuck in the bathroom! What if nobody hears me rattling away at the door? What if the lock is actually broken and they have to call a locksmith? How long am I going to be in here? Will my classmates notice that I’m gone and come to check on me? There are about four bathrooms on this stairwell, how will they know where to find me?

Of course I got out, but not until I realized that instead of forcing the lock open, I needed to change the position of the doors. And once I did that, the wheel on the lock turned easily and smoothly, as though I hadn’t just spent twelve minutes pushing at it with both hands and all of my strength.

This story belongs to a category of Life Abroad anecdotes I like to call “But hey, I’m in Paris!” Because it’s pathetic to get stuck in a bathroom like that–oh, the indignity!–but at least if you do it near the Palais Garnier in Paris, it makes for a good story.