Had a experience today that was an embarrassment and could have turned traumatic, but happily got sorted out.
After a morning in downtown Turin, I was going to meet up with Tino for lunch, and dropped into my hotel to make use of the bathroom, drop off some stuff and freshen up a little.
But then I found myself faced with a problem.
Firstly I'll explain that I've only bothered to learn a few words in Italian. I'm generally confident that I can get by in most countries as long as I know just a few important words...
ONE, TWO, and THREE; YES and NO; HELLO and GOODBYE; PLEASE, THANK YOU, and SORRY.
Knowing the words for WATER and some of the local food is important too. This is about my limit of Italian vocab.
So back to my hotel room, where I suddenly find that I need to say a whole lot to the staff at the hotel, and have no idea how to start saying it.
What I needed to know how to say in Italian was this.
'Hello? Yes, hello. Do you work here? Because if you do I need help as I've locked myself in. Yes, I've tried turning the brass knob many times but I've seriously locked myself in really really well and the brass knob is not doing me any good. When I came into the room I closed the outer wooden doors and put the metal bar across locking them from the inside as I normally do, and then I closed the inner glass doors without remembering to remove the keys (uh oh) from the outside of the doors, thereby locking those doors from the outside. I am therefore locked in and you are locked out. To get to the bar on the outer doors I would first have to unlock the inner doors which I can't do, and to get to the keys on the inner doors you would have to be able to remove the bar from the outer doors which you can't do, so I'm locked in in a very secure way and I don't know how we're going to get out of this pickle but maybe you can think of something and I really hope you can.'
I also would have liked to say a few more things about the situation.
'This is very embarrassing. I'm so sorry I've done this. Has this happened before? Do people do this all the time? Is there some quick and easy fix solution you know through experience? Tell me there is. Because I really wouldn't want you to have to take an axe to the door, as that would make me kind of nervous and I'd prefer not to have to face a hotel-owner who has just been forced to hack up part of their hotel due to the stupidity of one of their guests and is standing in front of me holding an axe while they're thinking about whose fault this whole thing is. Though I think the builders should have put more thought into these doors as they could have been made more idiot-proof, don't you think? And if you're thinking it's time to bring out the axe maybe I could suggest that I just leave through the window for the time being, though I guess that's only a short-term solution as all my stuff is in here and you probably can't rent out a room with no door. Hmmm.'
If I read out all of the above and only said the words that I know how to translate into Italian, all I would have been able to say to the people outside my room would have been this.
"Hello? Yes, hello. Yes. Hmmm."
I am guessing that 'Hmmm' is the same in English and Italian.
This didn't leave me much to go with.
So I stood looking at my door for quite a few minutes. Not much happened. I touched the doorknob a few times. Another attempted turn here, a sad and ineffective stroke there.
Rather than being brave and trying to talk to the people outside my door, I confronted the issue by calling for outside help instead. Out came the mobile phone. Tino, waiting for me at the restaurant, had himself a good chuckle and then volunteered to come over to the hotel.
I won't bore you with too many more details. Tino managed to get a rather grumpy guy from the hotel to get some tools together and bang away at the outer door. No, no guest in the hotel had ever got themselves in this situation before. After a number of attempts the bar got moved out of the way, and I quickly said my thanks and ran from the hotel. I hope the people who were there today aren't still there when I return tonight. Let me see - if I slept on a park bench I wouldn't have to go back till Sunday to quietly remove my bags while nobody is watching...