Confehr: Locked in bank, or courthouse, not funny

Friday, May 13, 2011

It almost happened again Tuesday night.

Lewisburg's city recorder was about to lock up City Hall and she asked, "Is everybody out of the building?"

Actually, no. Mayor Barbara Woods was the last out.

Small thing, and she'd probably have escaped anyway, but it's not so uncommon as one might think. It happened to me and it happened to another man during Mayfest, the Chamber of Commerce event last weekend.

Sally DuRocher went to Mayfest and was parking at the bank when she saw an elderly man through the window, DuRocher's mother, Martha Haywood Cross of the Cornersville Road, reported this week.

"He was just a wavin' and waving," Martha said. "He said he needed help, that he was locked in the bank... He had gone to the bathroom and when he came out, the doors were all locked."

Some of the story is unclear because the man's name isn't known, but it is clear, according to Martha, that Sally just happened to see him in the bank on that level near the sidewalk around the square.

Sally "walked down the side street and just happened to see someone in the bank," Martha reports. "She must have been closing up."

She didn't come to the foyer. She came to the door, and was told, "You have a man locked in the bank," Martha said. "When he finally came out, he just hugged Sally and hugged her.

"He was afraid they were going to charge him with bank robbery, or he'd have to stay until Monday."

He didn't have a cell phone.

Neither did I during the 1980s in Winchester where I'd been attending a meeting of a Franklin County Commission committee.

The discussion was repetitive and the meeting was long, so I found a reason to leave the room.

When I came back, the room was empty and dark. The hall was, too. Same upstairs. Without a reason to stay, I pushed the outside door.

Dang! I'm locked in, and nobody's on the courthouse steps or lawn.

To make matters worse, there were no coins in my pocket for a pay phone call from the booth in the lobby.

What to do?

As it turns out, 9-1-1 calls from pay phones are free.

The police dispatcher answering that night was amused, but acknowledged that there was something of an emergency. And, the officers on duty decided against arresting me for abusing the 9-1-1 system.

These tales are from communities like Mayberry, but there's a point here. Aside from free pay phone calls, 9-1-1 calls are free from mobile phones, even without a service provider. If you're about to change phones, help battered spouses by donating your old phone to a group that gives them to people who need the safety net of a 9-1-1 call.

Any law enforcement officer ought to be able to help you donate the phone. Just don't call them on 9-1-1.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.