Right now it is -13 degrees Celsius. About nine degrees Fahrenheit. It has snowed a couple of inches and continues to snow. And I just spent the last forty minutes of my life locked outside.
Not because I forgot my keys, not because I locked them in somewhere, not, for once, because I was an idiot. I was locked outside for forty minutes because my keys froze in the lock.
I was trying to do laundry. Get up relatively early on a Saturday and be responsible. It doesn’t happen all that often. I put on some sweats and a fleece jacket. I was just running to the laundry room. I took my cell phone and keys. But not my wallet.
Going to the laundry room involves a trek into the outside world. I braved the elements and arrived unscathed at the laundry room door. I placed my key into the door as any self-respecting potential laundry-doer would do. Nothing happened. Which wasn’t strange, this door is notorious for not always closing all the way when locked. I pushed the door shut and turned the key. And nothing happened. Which I thought was fine, I would just pull the key out and try again. Nope. The key was stuck. I couldn’t turn it left, I couldn’t turn it right.
A girl walked by and, being a resident, knew about the notorious door, she suggested I push it shut some more. I explained that the key was in fact stuck. After a brief moment of condolence, her parting words? Hoppas du inte behöver stå här ute länge. Hope you don’t have to stand out here for long. Me too. Me too.
I suddenly began going through my options. I could run to the store and buy some of that lock spray that is essentially straight alcohol. No, I couldn’t. I didn’t have my wallet. I could run back to my apartment and not be cold. No, I couldn’t. My key was stuck in a different lock. Things were not looking promising.
At this point I became somewhat agitated and may have kicked the door in disgust. Which in cold weather just hurts. But the aggression cleared my head. The other laundry room was open, and there was running water. But I had no container. In a stroke of genius, I ran to the recycling room and dug through the metal return bin for an old can of tomatoes. Back to the laundry room. I cranked on the water and let it run hot. And filled the tomato can. Ran outside, dumped the water on. Tried the key. Nothing. Repeat. Nothing. Repeat. Nothing. Repeat. Nothing. I dumped at least eight cans of hot water on the lock before it finally released my key from the bowels of hell.
Sweet relief. At this point my hands were cold and wet which meat I was starting to stick to door handles. And anyone who has ever seen A Christmas Story knows that wet skin and cold metal do not mix.
I headed back to my apartment with no clean clothes but a key. I put my key in the door and felt it stick. And immediately pulled it out. It was still a bit wet. Damn it. I stood outside drying the key with numb finger tips. After a couple minutes, I felt confident enough to make another attempt. I did. The key turned, the lock clicked, and the door swung open.
Welcome to Sweden. And weather cold enough to lock you outside.
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