One of the downsides of being a pianist is that you don’t have the security of carrying your instrument around with you. Of course, one of the perks if you don’t have to carry your instrument around with you and deal with security.
The college has only one piano in the building, and it isn’t always available, so I’m allowed to practice on the grand piano in St. Mark’s Church when it’s open. The only caveat is that the church closes at 5 PM.
The first time I went to St. Mark’s to practice, I was very wary of of being locked in. I periodically got up from the bench to open the door, close it, open it again, and close it again, just to make sure. Had someone been watching me they probably would have thought I had some sort of severe obsessive disorder.
Five o’clock came and went, and I packed up to get home before dinner. When I got to the door, it refused to open.
I stayed calm. I went to the other side of the room to a door with a sign saying, in both English and German, “Emergency exit—DO NOT LOCK.”
It was locked. I was trapped in a church.
I couldn’t believe that the door had been locked while I was practicing. I imagined some sinister priest coming to the door, hearing me banging away at Liszt inside the room, and locking me in anyway.
Brief visions of camping out on the floor and waiting for the morning flashed through my head. I tried the main door again. I jiggled the handle, pushed against the door—nothing. I took out my phone, for which I’d bought an Austrian SIM card the day before, and called the director of the college. I was flooded with relief when she picked up the phone, and I think the first words out of my mouth were “I’m trapped in Saint Mark’s!”
When she arrived the first words out of her mouth were “It’s not locked.”
As it turns out, the door just happened to be a very old door, and the handle had to be pushed down a certain way. The director had me try, in front of her, and I sheepishly discovered that I had been capable of opening it the entire time.