Sunday, July 13, 2008

You can check out any time you like……

Last weekend, my wife Kara and I invented an awesome, real life brain teaser. If you’d like to play along at home and test your own cerebral power, you can set up our brain teaser for yourself in just a few short, unintelligent steps.

First, check into a hotel room that adjoins the room where your sister-in-law Sarah and her boyfriend Brad are staying. Watch a few minutes of CSI: Miami before you go to sleep, but turn it off when you realize that you’ve already seen that one, even though you’ve only watched that show like three times.

The next morning, while still inside your room, go to the front door and swing the locking mechanism, which is called a “swing bar door guard” for those who never needed a name for it, which includes most non-idiots, to the locked position. The swing bar door guard is the thing you flip over to keep your hotel door open while you run to the ice machine in your underwear, at which point the elevator doors will open and a high school marching band will come out.

Now all you need to do is exit the hotel through Brad and Sarah’s room so that you can steal some of their Swedish fish on the way out. Make sure that the knobless door between your rooms, the one that can only be opened from inside your room, swings shut and locks behind you.

You’re all set. Of course, if you’ve replicated the brain teaser this far, you’ve already failed it. And if you’re anything like me and Kara, you’ll wander back to your hotel room at 1:30 in the morning, intoxicated somewhat on life but mostly on summer ale, and hit your forehead on the door when it only swings open the two inches that the swing bar door guard will allow.

At this point, you can wake up Brad and Sarah all you want, but they won’t be able to do anything but ask where all the Swedish fish went.

When this happened to us last Saturday, we stood outside the door to our room, picturing future travelers checking into the same hotel.

“Hello, I’d like to stay in Room 214, if it’s available.”

“Oh, we haven’t let folks stay in that room for nearly fifty years.”

“Why? Because it’s haunted?”

“No, because some idiot locked the swing bar door guard and left through the adjoining room. If you can figure out a way to open that door, you can have his luggage. And his wife’s, too.”

Earlier this year, our cousins had the exact same thing happen, except instead of locking up just their razors and iPods, their two-year-old daughter was on the other side of the door.

“Sophie, bring a chair over to the door, stand on it and flip the swingy thing on the door over to the other side,” they called into the room.

“Hi, Mommy!” Sophie replied. Several minutes later, the hotel staff had taken the door off its hinges.

“I have a predicament,” I told the lady at the front desk, who shook her head as I explained.

She handed me a plastic trash bag and said, “Well, you’re not the first. There’s a way to open it with a trash bag, but I’ve never done it. I’ll send up a security guard.”

Franklin, the security guard, hadn’t done it before, either, but he sure got a kick out of trying.

“This is a new one,” he said, laughing to himself as he reached through the crack in the door with the trash bag.

After thirty rustley minutes of trying every possible trash bag configuration while Kara offered suggestions that started with “Ooh, ooh, try this,” Franklin finally gave the bag a tug that sent the door guard swinging to the unlocked position, setting off a series of high fives that only ended once we realized that we were at the wrong room. I’m kidding, of course. They were more like handshakes than high fives.

You can unhinge Mike Todd at


  1. Another fun thing to do is send your kids to Morgantown, WV with only 20 bucks. AFTER they get locked out of their apartment, and AFTER they have a huge fight in the parking lot, in which one sister (the 17 year old one)has the other sister (the 22 year old one) in a head lock, saying, "When you are calm I will let you go...", and AFTER you call every locksmith in town and they are all DRUNK because, HEY it's Friday night, dude!, and AFTER you scream into the phone "If you take that 20 bucks and order a pizza delivered to the parking lot, I will amputate your feet and hands and shove them ALL UP YOUR ASSES WITH THE PIPING HOT PIZZA, you MORONS!!, the OLDEST and presumably SMARTEST child withdraws FORTY bucks from her debit card, (when she only has FIVE dollars in the bank) to pay the ONE FREAKIN' LOCKSMITH YOU MANAGED TO FIND IN MORGANTOWN ON A FRIDAY NIGHT.

    It's a pretty fun game for the kids, I think...

  2. This happened to me and some friends when we took a vacation to Vegas. One roommate was just drunk enough to think setting this lock was a great idea before passing out, yet not sober enough to wake up to constant beatings on the door when the rest of us realized we were locked out. That's the holy grail of drunken decision making that I'd only previously seen attained at a frat house during a big party.

    The security guards had a very cool tool that they slipped into the door while it was slightly ajar... and then when they slammed the door shut, it swung the lock open. It was not nearly as humiliating to stand there for 15 seconds while he did that. Standing there for half an hour while your security guard worked that plastic bag must have sucked!

    But wouldn't that make for a great caper... you could totally rob a hotel if you simultaneously got a dozen guests to preoccupy the guards with locked doors.

  3. That was so funny, I wanna suggest to all the people I don't like, to go try that. hehehehe

  4. Miss Anne -- Ha! That sounds like a really awesome hypothetical game. I hope your kids never get to play it.

    Russ -- Dang, you musta been staying at one o' them fancy places. Your security guard gets an awesome door-opening tool, ours gets a trash bag. Let's talk soon to start planning that caper. I'll stop at Sam's Club to pick up the Hefty cinch sacks.

    Burf -- It only works if you don't like them AND they happen to be idiots. You'll have to come up with something else for the wily ones.

  5. I'm curious about the Swedish fish - was it ABBAcore tuna, by any chance?

    I thank you.

  6. I guess I'm lucky, cuz most the people I don't like are dumb as a door nail. hehehehehe

  7. JL -- No, thank you. Now THAT was impressive. Mama Mia!

    Burf -- Perfect. Now make sure they don't stay in one o' them fancy places like Russell (the love muscle). They got fancy door opnin' tools at them places. My places just gots trash bags.