Locked Out: An Ode to the Humble Door

A few days ago, I was locked out of my bedroom. It was my first time. I have a single bedroom, so there was no roommate I could call to rescue me from ...

Nov 21, 2015

A few days ago, I was locked out of my bedroom.
It was my first time.
I have a single bedroom, so there was no roommate I could call to rescue me from my predicament. For lack of an alternative, I burst into tears and pounded on the door with my fists, yelling, “How could you do this to me?” and “I thought you were different!” until I realized that I had no choice but to turn myself in to Public Safety.
If you’re lucky enough to never have been locked out, the procedure for regaining access to your room is terrifying. First, they make you sit on the couches near the entrance, where you have to repent for your sins. They don’t comfort you, or tell you that everything’s going to be okay, or offer you a cup of warm chai. They make a mysterious phone call while using phrases like “Alpha red mango,” and then they sternly tell you to “stay here” so that you don’t beat a hasty retreat. You have no idea whether you’re waiting for the guy with the access card or for your parents to come pull you out of school, because rule number one of global citizenship is: don’t forget the keys, dummy.
Those 20 minutes of waiting time are worse than the wait at the Health & Wellness Center. Not only is it punishing, but it also involves a distinct element of public shaming; everyone who enters the building keeps glancing at you and walking away quickly, as if you’re Typhoid Mary. They know what you’ve done, and they don’t want to be associated with you. To add insult to injury, you were probably locked out of your room when you went to the bathroom, which means that you are clothed in your Hello Kitty pajamas or a small towel. Doors are truly the epitome of evil.
Or are they?
It was when I was alternating between salvation-seeking and plotting my revenge against my door, Woody Allen, that I had a flash of insight: starting an anti-door revolution wasn’t the solution. Sure, Woody had hurt me sometimes, physically and emotionally, but that wasn’t a sufficient excuse to overlook everything that doors had done for me until this day. Just think about it: where would the world be without small enclosed spaces and knock-knock jokes?
I’ll admit, I have always had a rocky relationship with doors — especially here at NYU Abu Dhabi — but in retrospect, I find that there are important lessons to be gleaned from these encounters.

Lesson One: To Get There, You Need To Push — And Sometimes, Pull

When I first arrived on campus, I despised doors, mainly because I had no idea how to open them. To open some doors, you need to pull. To open others, you have to push. It’s anarchy. Pull? Push? Pull? I would mostly just stand with my face and palms pressed against the door like a goldfish, hoping that someone would notice my plight and open it for me. If nobody came to my rescue, I would squeak “Help! Help!” until Public Safety arrived to let me in, or out. I truly believed that doors were evil.
Another thing that I didn’t know was that you needed to swipe your ID card to open a lot of the doors on campus. I genuinely thought that I needed some sort of passcode, like “Open Sesame,” to enter the Marketplace from the High Line. For hours I would stand outside, yelling “Falafel!” “Starbucks!” and “Falco the Falcon!” at the door in vain.
But I persevered. I closely observed as others opened doors with reasonable success, and I emulated their movements precisely. Today I am proud to announce that I can open any door on campus. I don’t even have to cry that much. And that was when I stopped hating doors.

Lesson Two: You Don’t Have To Lift Weights To Be Buff

When I spot someone entering the Campus Center from the High Line, my biggest dilemma is whether to make a run for the open door, or walk normally so that I then have to take out my own key card and swipe. I don’t think my brain is very bright, because my instinct is always to run for it, even though I know that doing so requires about 50 times the energy. So I run, and I catch the door just before it closes shut. In that fleeting moment, I am convinced that I am Usain Bolt. Then I remember that I didn’t want to go to the Campus Center at all; I was actually heading for the Arts Center. Well, as long as I didn’t have to swipe my key card, it was worth it.
The same goes for the dining hall. If I’m taking my lunch outside, I’d much rather stand by the doors with my plate in my hand, waiting for someone to come in, and then run out before the door shuts. Who can be bothered to open two doors? In the meantime, as an added bonus, my heavy plates of food have toned my biceps beautifully.

Lesson Three: You Have No Social Life, And That’s Okay

Every suite has that one roommate who is the designated doorman. This is either the roommate who lives closest to the door, or the roommate with no social life. Like the overachiever I am, I happen to be both. Someone knocks on the door, and my involuntary response is to rush and open it. The visitors are never for me, but I almost feel obligated to tip my imaginary hat and say, “Madam is waiting for you in her room. May I interest you in some tea and scones?” For around a month, I hoped that one day I too would be popular enough to have visitors come to my suite. But except for one incident with Public Safety, that never happened. Over time, I’ve reconciled myself with the fact that those visitors will never be for me. But that’s okay, because they usually tip me handsomely.
It’s clear, therefore, that there’s much to be learned from doors. No longer can you disregard them as things that you inexplicably keep bumping into when you’re trying to move between rooms. Doors are the epitome of human creativity, the harbingers of bad jokes, and they even have a rock band named after them. In fact, the sad truth is that you’ll never be as awesome as doors.
But don’t lose heart: When one door closes, another one opens. Unless you forgot your key card inside, in which case you’re doomed.
Supriya Kamath is a contributing writer. Email her at
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