Going deeper underground

Patrick Hulbert descends into full-scale panic when he finds himself locked in a car park

The Knowledge

I very nearly died the other week. And I’m not talking about some metaphorical fashion faux pas or any of that diva rubbish (I work in an office full of the hysteric-prone and I have enough of that already). I’m talking about literally passing away…

I ended up getting locked in a car park. I know the car park in question closes at 6pm. But I was working hard in the office on a Thursday evening, burning the midnight oil (I work far too hard) and I completely forgot to move my car. No worries, I thought to myself. I can easily collect it tomorrow.

So I go into the office the next day – and do a bit more graft (seriously, I really do work too hard) – and decide to collect the car. Everything seems fine. The first set of doors into the car park are open and I walk in – life is good.

Then the problems start. As I keep walking, I see that the fire shutters are in operation, which leads me to assume that the car park is actually closed. But the massive metal fire wall has a door in it, and I can open it, so I walk through, and it closes. I go to my car, get in and drive to the exit. But I notice that the fire shutters are blocking my exit and I can’t get out with the car. Is that me here for the entire weekend? Surely I can just park up and go out of the door I just entered from, right? WRONG! Fire doors only open from one side, so I’ve managed to lock myself in.

And there’s no phone signal in this underground car park, or internet access, or anything… I wander around, panicking, with no water, thinking I’ll truly be stuck in here until 6am on Sunday when those doors probably reopen… in 38 hours!

I consider all eventualities and every possible way of getting hold of liquid. Walking around the car park in the hope of finding another exit, I keep having to open fire doors. But I carefully leave them on the latch this time, so I can actually get back to my car, my fortress, my sanctuary for sleep. I walk the entire stretch of the car park, tearful… and then I see the light. Again, not metaphorically, but literally, the piercing glare of sunlight. There’s another exit! An urban oasis of beauty. The doors are open to the fresh air. Survival, redemption, freedom.

Okay, so this ordeal lasted just 25 minutes, but getting into a tizz is thirsty work. I was basically one locked door away from guaranteed death… one hundred percent…Patrick Hulbert is editor of Time Out Doha, and he’s the biggest drama queen we know.

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