This important safety lesson brought to you by the folks at the security checkpoint at one of the Borough Hall buildings, which I had to pass through yesterday on the way to the post office.
When they pulled my bag off the conveyor belt, I assumed they were going for my boxcutter, sitting in its holster clipped to the inside of the bag since I was on my way into work at TJ’s down the street.
“Can you please pull your lock out, sir?” the woman said.
Wait, what? I took out my padlock (used for a locker at work) and handed it to her. I could claim it when I left, she said.
Why can’t I take a lock in? I asked. The man in charge told me it is illegal to place a lock on any doors in government buildings in New York. I guess this at some point must have been a terrible problem for them, with angry citizens slipping into the buildings and trapping harassed building officials or judges in their chambers in vengeance for bureaucracy, unfair parking tickets or maybe just for failing to ever address the raw sewage smell that gives downtown Brooklyn that aura of third-world charm. Or maybe it’s some sort of a holdout of
fears from the Triangle Shirtwaist Era?
To recap: in NY, fear of locked doors > fear of being slashed to death with a razor that can open 30 boxes of Joe’s Os per minute.
Then I remembered that morning, trying to get out of my apartment, where someone had locked a lock on the front door from the outside. This lock had never been used before in my month here. It was either forged in magic by goblins centuries ago or I was never given a proper key for it. After trying unsuccessfully for 30 minutes to make the lock relent and free me from the hallway before I was late for work, I was left with one choice: climb out the second story balcony and rappel down to ground level, Indiana Jones style.
I made it safely. But I couldn’t imagine what the escape route would be for someone trapped in their Borough Hall office, a padlocked door blocking freedom and
raw sewage smell pouring in through the windows. Even a box cutter wouldn’t help in that situation.