By Amy McCollom
I staggered up the dark staircase, a full basket of freshly washed laundry somehow balanced on the skinny waistband of my pajama pants, and my forearms. My hands were each holding onto things I was carrying up with me, and I even had a small bag in my mouth, so my balance was thrown off. The light from the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling made the stairwell wall the perfect silver-screen for a live show of dancing spiderwebs. When I made it to the very top of the stairs, I was met with a sudden heart-dropping realization and panic; someone had locked the basement door! I was trapped inside the basement at night! Spooky!
As I peeked through the keyhole in the door, I could see all the lights were off in the house. Everyone had gone to bed. I knew it was getting late when I headed down to the basement, and that is why I made my announcement to the family that I was going down to get the laundry out of the dryer. Perhaps they didn’t hear me, maybe they forgot, or maybe it was a practical joke. Maybe my kids had been waiting for years and finally found their chance to lock Mom in the basement, once and for all!
Honestly, I wasn’t wearing my watch, so I had no idea what time it was or how long I had been down there. I really was only going down there to get the clothes out of the dryer and come right back upstairs, but then I got distracted in my sewing room. Next thing I knew I had made a headband, cut out a dress pattern, made a stuffed cat, and sewed a designer Barbie dress. Now you know why I say that my creativity is a blessing and a curse. It doesn’t just turn off.
So there I stood balancing myself in the narrow stairs, with my hands full, knocking on the basement door with my head, hoping someone would hear me and let me in the house. I was becoming really annoyed. I knew if I had to, I could probably figure out a way to jig the lock open, but that would require going back down all those stairs and setting all of my stuff down, finding a screwdriver and a hammer, and three more trips up and down those tall stairs. I didn’t have the energy for that, so I just stood there using my head as a door knocker until my dog started barking. Faithful ole Paisley. Woman’s best friend. I might have to change her name to Lassie. “Lassie, is Mommy trapped in the basement? Go get help! Good girl, Lassie!”
Finally they found me, and my family felt awful about it, and I let them. I enjoyed the hugs and apologies and attention for a while. How dare they lock their queen in the dungeon! Lessons learned by all parties involved. Next time I venture to “The Netherworld Below,” I will be sure to have my cellular device on me so I can call for help, or bring one of my minions with me..
When I was a kid, my brother and I would watch episodes of Mission Impossible. (Way before the Tom Cruise movies.) And later we would watch MacGyver, and other shows like that in the 70’s and 80’s. And the one thing we learned is that you have to always be ready if you are going to survive unexpected circumstances. We would take turns tying each other up to a tree in our yard, and practice getting loose. We would see who could be the quietest and walk through the whole house without making the hardwood floors creak even once. We would tie bandanas around our eyes and practice navigating like blind people, letting our ears guide us. And we tried to learn how to escape a stalled elevator; it looked simple enough, but we were always too short to reach the ceiling tiles.
So I said all of that to say this: Be prepared. The people who survive things are the ones who have thought about all the things that could happen and who have prepared for the unexpected. Don’t just stick your head in the sand and think that bad things won’t ever happen or that you will never be trapped in a situation that you wouldn’t want to be in. You will. And knowing what to do will make all the difference. Always think of the “what ifs.” It doesn’t mean you are negative, it means you are smart.
You will figure out what you need to do to prepare yourself and your family. Don’t be trapped with no way out. Trust me, it will save you a headache later on! Be prepared, like a good Boy Scout. And it doesn’t hurt to have a Lassie, just in case.