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Women’s bathroom lock malfunctions, traps student for half hour

Junior Bella Anderson is unharmed, old lock is replaced

Elliot Bailey, A&E Editor

Originally published May 17, 2015


Elliot BaileyCustodian Engineer Al Lowe holds open the door that had trapped junior Bella Anderson for most of fifth period on May 8. Lowe was able to pick the lock after around a half hour of working at the door with his tools.

Elliot Bailey

Custodian Engineer Al Lowe holds open the door that had trapped junior Bella Anderson for most of fifth period on May 8. Lowe was able to pick the lock after around a half hour of working at the door with his tools.

In most stories of sudden enclosure, of collapsed Peruvian mines or celebrities stuck in the elevator, one of the first thoughts to surface is “Where did they go to the restroom?”

Junior Bella Anderson was more fortunate than most when a malfunctioning lock left her trapped in the women’s math pod bathroom for about a half hour on May 8.

A broken mechanism which allows the door’s latch bolt to retract was responsible for Anderson’s enclosure according to SPS locksmith Brian Blood.

“It’s just not a good design and it’s as old as this building,” Blood said of the door’s primary mechanical component, the lock cassette, which encompasses all moving parts related to the  opening and locking of the door.

The locks at Ballard are not as old as those Blood most often grapples with around the school district; however the lifespan of any machinery is primarily based on usage, not age. Blood says the best time to replace old hardware is simply “before failure.”

I have no idea what’s going on, but I find it very comical”

— Bella Anderson, 11

“They do wear out,” he said. “You figure the thousands of usage[s] a door gets every day.”

According to Custodian Engineer Al Lowe, three other doors have malfunctioned in this way and two of them had to be broken down from the outside. Lowe would agree with Blood’s assessment of the locks, saying that “they’re not the top rate.”

Anderson was in good spirits as Lowe worked to free her from the unexpectedly long bathroom trip.

“I have no idea what’s going on, but I find it very comical,” Anderson said from under the locked bathroom door. “It makes my day less boring.”

Anderson was on her way to the library when she stopped at the bathroom. She said later that she almost hadn’t, but she had figured it would only take a minute.

“At a certain point I realized that it wasn’t going to open and I just started trying to make noise so that someone would hear me,” Anderson said. “I think a crowd gathered, but I recognized a few voices and they asked for my social security number and were joking around that I had to pay to get out.”   

Blood arrived shortly before the final bell to replace the broken cassette lock. He says there is now “something from the 21st century” in its place.

 

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Women’s bathroom lock malfunctions, traps student for half hour