Nov 4, 2010

I never do things by myself... apparently, for a reason

I rarely go places on my own. Oh sure, I go grocery shopping and to the bank, to the post office, shopping, etc., but I don't "do" things... museums, quilt shows, festivals - alone.

I've been wanting to go to an exhibit of applique chintz quilts from the 1700's and 1800's at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati. The advertisement has been hanging on my refrigerator for months, but every time I make plans to go with Lynn, my quilting buddy, one of us has one kind of last minute emergency or another, and we cancel. My husband has been working long hours, including many hours, so he never seemed to have time to go. Time passed quickly, and yesterday I noticed the exhibit was going to end this week. I wanted to see it! I called Lynn, but she couldn't go. Husband couldn't take a day off. So.... drum roll... I decided to go on my own.

I never do this, but heck... why not? I will be able to take my time and read every single description and study the quilts without anyone hurrying me. Yes, I can do this!

I drive AROUND Cincinnati often, but I rarely drive in downtown Cincinnati, but the directions sounded easy. Off at the exit, stay on one street, take a right. How hard can it be?

OK, I got lost. But I got lost in the vacinity of the museum, so I just kept driving around block by block until I found the original street and re-traced my footsteps (tire tracks?). After only 10 or 15 extra minutes drive time, I found the Museum.

The Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati
In all fairness, I'd not been to the Taft Museum of Art before. It's a beautiful, huge historic house that I always assumed was somehow related to President Taft, but it was the home of someone named Baum.... well, you can read about it here if you're really interested.

So I'm happy with myself because I drove into downtown Cincinnati, found the Museum and lived to talk about it. I arrive in the Lobby, purchase my ticket and tell the lady at the desk I've not been to the Museum before and that I wanted to see the quilt exhibit, so.... where do I go? She was not very friendly and not very helpful and simply said "It's upstairs."  Ok.. Let's find the stairs. Heck, I can find stairs!

In one direction is some kind of lunch room (as in tea room - or whatever you call a really fancy place where you eat lunch in pearls and heels), and in the other direction to the left of the lobby desk is a long hallway. I take the hallway. At the end of the hallway, I spot the sign "Stairs". To the right of it, aimed down a second hallway is a sign "Employees only past this point." OK... so I must want to take the stairs up to the next floor.

I open the door... and find some startling modern industrial looking metal stairs that certainly don't LOOK as if they belong in this gorgeous old house... hear the door click behind me.. and walk up to the next floor.

The door is locked. There's a little keycard thingie like you see in hotels these days - and  I have no key card. Of course, I jiggle the door handle a few times just to make SURE it's locked (yup, still locked!).. and walk back down to the first floor.

The door is LOCKED! There's a little keycard thingie like you see in hotels these days - and of course, I STILL don't have key card... and I realize - I'm LOCKED IN THE STAIR WELL.

Hmmm... I wait. Surely someone will come along and I can simply pretend I know where I am and follow them out the door. And I wait. And I wait. And. I. Wait.  No one.

I knock on the door, though I do remember where I came in was simply a crossroads of hallways without rooms or offices in the immediate vacinity. No response. I knock LOUDER. Still nothing. OK, a little bit of panic is seeping in now.

I look at the receipt the lobby lady had given me and see a bar code on it, and wave it around the key card thingie, thinking THAT might be the secret. No go. Now, I KNOW it's not going to work, but at this point, I'm getting desperate.

I knock L.O.U.D.E.R.

Now I'm horrified and embarrassed. And exasperated. And panicked. And just a teeny tiny bit scared that I wasn't going to make it back to pick up Mr. B by three o'clock because I was stuck in the Museum, and if I had to call my daughter and tell her that, she was going to pee her freakin' pants right there, at work, laughing at me.

This can't be happening...

Oh yeah, it's happening. I am at one of the finest museums in the Cincinnati area - locked in the stairwell. The deserted stairwell. The stairwell apparently no one ever uses.

Oh please... please don't make me have to call 911 to get out of here.. I can see the headlines now (after all, the elections are over - it's back to slow news days).

I look at the map of the museum I have in my hand, and see a phone number of the Museum. Hallelujah! I get my cell phone... call the number... "Taft Museum of Art, may I help you?"

Ah, I recognize the voice. It's the unfriendly lady in the lobby.

"Yes ma'm. You're not going to believe this, but I'm a first-time visitor at the Museum, and I'm locked in your stairwell."

(silence) (UNfriendly silence). "You'll have to speak to someone in security." Then I hear her call out, "Becky! Someone's locked in the Museum and can't get out!" Loud. In front of all the lunch ladies in pearls and heels.

"Hello. This is Museum Security. What can I do for you?"

I explain my situation. She laughs, which of course, makes me even more mortified. "Do you know what floor you're on?" Yes, despite the fact I'm stupid enough to get myself locked in the stairwell, I can still read numbers. "One," I tell her. "We'll be right there and get you out," she says, still giggling.

And she did. Within two minutes, I was out. Embarrassed, but out. She was still giggling, I was still mortified. She asked me if I knew where the main stairs were to the second floor. I hate to say it, but I think I rolled my eyes. If I knew that, I probably wouldn't have gotten locked in THAT set of stairs. I turn to view the STAIRS sign where I'd just come out, and see in small letters under it "Employees Only". Oh. Sigh.

Then something occurs to me. I say to Ms. Security, "If you have to have a key card to get OUT of there, why can you get IN without a card?" "Ohhh," she says. "It's an emergency exit." Funny, I always thought Emergency Exits were for getting OUT of a burning building, not being sealed INTO a stairwell, but OK.

She accompanied me back to the lobby, and there, beside the unfriendly, unhelpful, now GLARING at me Lobby Lady are a huge set of carpeted stairs -- for the Public.

And just to complete my day, after I viewed (and thoroughly enjoyed) the quilt exhibit, I left the museum and promptly got lost, found myself on the Columbia Parkway that apparently has no exits for oh, 10 or 15 miles, so I could turn around and go in the correct direction.

I guess there's a good reason I don't go out by myself very often...

You BETTER not be rolling your eyes...


Karen said...

Rolling my eyes??? I'm with Mary peeing my pants laughing! Sorry!!

Kathy B said...

Oh Joan, you have my sympathy. That could have been me (my husband is nodding in agreement) I got turned around at Showcase Cinema tonight and confidently headed for the exit until John asked me where I thought I was going.

I thoroughly enjoyed your writing. You have a real way with words!

Lynne said...

Oh my gosh, this was totally hilarious - thank you for sending me to read this too!