Sunday, October 11, 2009

History of weekend break-ins

Only two times in my life I was a witness to a breaking a front door.

First time it happened at the apartment building where my grandmother used to live. It was late at night, on weekend. The water started dripping from the ceiling in my room. In a few minutes it was not a drip but a steady stream coming from the ceiling light, and the leakage was already in every room in the apartment. My granny was on the telephone and I was trying to get rid of the water, filling up buckets and pouring them out.

Then it got worth, because the water shortcut the wires. Lights were getting off and sparkles flied and we were seriously worried that the fire could start. So I got out to the hallway to turn off the fuse. Our neighbours were already there – they were getting flooded as well. Somebody told us that the owner of the apartment upstairs – where all the water was coming from – was out of town, so there was no use banging on his door.

At that point I couldn’t control the water and it already started to flood our downstairs neighbours. Mind you it was at the climax of the collapse of Soviet Union. To get a repairmen or an emergency service on a weekend (or on any other day in this matter) was pretty much impossible. Majority ruled to break in the upstairs apartment, get to the freaking leak and repair it ourselves. One of the neighbours – a huge guy – put his hunting boots on and kicked the door with a surprising force. The door literally broke in half. Guys rushed in and fixed the pipe, and we all started to deal with aftermath, aka burned wiring, bloating wall paint, soaked carpet ets.

The other incident happened in my apartment and it wasn’t as dramatic. It happened on weekend as well. My at that time boyfriend said me goodbye, turned the door lock knob, something banged and the knob stayed in his hand. We were locked in.

Have to tell you that in classic Soviet Russia people used to solve lock-in and lock-out problems very decisively. Usually it involved climbing from or onto the next door apartment’s balcony. I saw ones how a quite drunken man lost his keys and tried to climb from the balcony on the fourth floor to the third floor and he fell down. Amazingly enough he didn’t even get hurt, landed in the snow. But we were on the sixth floor, so a canopy acrobatics was out of question. Therefore my ex asked me for an axe (sounds nice, huh). Very surprised, I was watching how this soft-talking nerdish mama’s boy was breaking my lock with an axe. I was so impressed with his sudden manhood I stayed with him way too long instead of breaking up with him right after we fixed the door.

Thus, two times I was a witness to the break-in but only one time I slept through it. That episode became an instant family legend. And it happened again on the weekend.

I was about 11 or 12 at that time. My mom was out of town for a conference or something. My dad never forced me to go to sleep at certain hour, so I imagine it was quite late when I finally went to bed. I fell asleep immediately, peacefully slept through the night and when I woke up in the morning I was shocked to see a hole in our front door on the place where the door lock used to be. Although my father was even more shocked. “You really didn’t hear anything?” he was asking me. I didn’t. I missed quite a show that night.

After I went to sleep, my dad finished his yet another home improvement project and he realised that he had made a serious mess at the door. He decided to wipe the floor before going to bed. So he took a bucket full of water and started mopping. He opened a door and put the bucket outside in the hallway so it wouldn’t be on his way. And he still knocked down the bucket and spilled the water all over.

Being a good tenant (again everything was happening in the apartment complex) he went out and started to mop the hallway, when the door swung shut. Naturally, he didn’t have the keys. But at that point Dad wasn’t at all worried because he knew that I was inside and can open the door. So he peacefully finished mopping the hallway and then tried to get back home.

He was ringing the doorbell until it broke down. Then he started knocking and calling me and probably kicking the door. He didn’t wake me up, but he did wake up a neighbour who called the police. At half past midnight the police arrived, probably expecting to find a gang, breaking in the apartments. They found a man in a tee-shirt and shorts with a bucket of dirty water and a mop. The men told them that there was a kid inside (me) and maybe something happened to her (me) because she (me) didn’t wake up.

The officers got tools from our neighbours (there was already an assembly in the hallway) and cut the door lock out – lock, stock and barrel. They went inside and found me – sleeping like an angel. They decided to not wake me up. I missed everything. But I had a chance to live in Soviet Union - a country that doesn't exist anymore. With all the mess it was fun somehow.


  1. Somehow, most of the trouble I've had while living in Soviet Union seems to be very funny either from today's point of view or back then. Really, riveting experience. Totally enjoyed your stories, too.

  2. Haha! Love the last break-in story :-) And by the way, I personally climbed from our neighbors' balcony onto ours countless times when I would lock myself out :-) Luckily, we lived on the second floor.