Earlier this week, a man found himself locked inside a fitness center that advertised 24-hour service but decided to close anyway. The man, who was swimming laps in the pool when the staff left, was trapped inside.
After trying to find a way out, he was finally rescued by police after he began posting selfies on social media of himself alone in the business.
The guy was lucky. The building had heat, snacks, handy restrooms and — this is important — no horrifying, flesh-eating steroid gym monsters lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce.
When he couldn’t get out, he did what any sensible guy would do. He called his wife. Being the smartest person in the scenario, she suggested that he find a nice place to sleep until the center opened in the morning. But eventually the cops showed up.
As a kid, I used to fantasize about being trapped in various places — Santa’s workshop, a drug lab, military arsenal, nuclear missile silo and even — if I’m being honest — the Playboy Mansion or a Middle Eastern harem.
These were just youthful fantasies. If any of them ever actually occurred, I would have been arrested, beheaded, neutered, blown to atoms, overdosed, or been responsible for triggering a nuclear war.
Even so, I would have preferred them to places where I have been interminably stuck for real — church, juvie, basic training, political debate, summer school, hospital, and the 77 days, 11 hours and 18 minutes I was stuck with a certain missionary companion.
We all have places we wish never to have been locked inside — prison, a loveless marriage, gym membership, a job we hate but can’t quit, or a family reunion.
Except for prison, none of these places has real locks. But the repercussions for escaping them are horrible to contemplate. Busting out could cost a relationship with kids, a good credit rating, a home or a respectable reputation.
That doesn’t mean we can’t fantasize about being stuck somewhere for 24 hours. If so, where would you choose? I’m older now and more scarred up than a dog with no car sense, so my fantasies of being trapped in a place have matured.
Right now, I would choose to be trapped in the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the Kremlin, on Easter Island or inside a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a full tank of gas.
I wouldn’t mind being forced to spend a week wandering the fields of Gettysburg, the ruins of Palenque or the interior of the pyramids.
But let’s stick to the rules. Like the guy stuck in the fitness center, our forced stay would be limited to just one night, or until rescued, arrested and/or shot.
My current favorite wish-I-was-stuck place is the White House. Given my impulsiveness, lack of self control, and indifference to outcome so long as I’m entertained, y’all would wake up to a vastly different country tomorrow.
Wait. What am I thinking? I’d choose Santa’s workshop.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. But it’s a real place. I know because I have actually been there. Or maybe it was the drug lab. Doesn’t matter. It was fun.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.