Locked In – A Lesson in Irony

I’d lived in New York for three weeks. I’d stayed in and moved between two sublet apartments, started a new job, met countless new people, and just cut the only person I’d known in New York before I arrived out of my life. In short, I was fucking stressed and needed a release.

I’d gone to a few yoga studios in Park Slope before, but the one I chose in my stress-release mission had a Restorative class that made me feel like I had light coming out of my head. It was frequented by the kind of health-fad conscious women who bought the studio’s $10 gluten-free treats, and finished each class looking like they’d stepped out of a yoga commercial.

I, on the other hand, usually finished classes looking like a sweat-drowned rat and it was no different on this swampy July afternoon. The deep breathing we’d done at the end of the class had made me release all my stress into my scented eye pillow, something I thought I’d done discreetly. It wasn’t until I went to change out of my soggy clothes that I realized the stress was all over my face, letting everyone know I’d forgotten to take off my mascara.

I used wet toilet paper to de-goth my eyes which, in hindsight, took a lot longer than expected. I opened the door into the dark studio and got ready to give an awkward apology to whoever was there waiting. Only, when I got to the front desk, I realized there was no one there to apologize to.

My first thought was “OH thank God I don’t have to do the awkward apology!”
Then, when I realized a shutter locked from the outside was covering the door, my next thought was “How the FUCK do I get out of here?”

“Climb out the window? See if there’s a back exit? Try the other windows?”
The options my brain presented me were like a morbid Choose Your Own Adventure! story that would lead to my certain death. I tried calling the studio hoping it would divert to someone’s cell phone, but the click of the answering machine I heard next to me proved otherwise.

I called 911. I have never called an emergency line for an actual emergency before. That is, unless you count calling the police to ask them to remind the neighbors across the street that screaming “To the window, to the wall! To the sweat drop down my balls, to all you bitches crawl!” along with their stereo at 1am, is an emergency.

The fact the operator could decipher anything I was saying through my sobbing rant is nothing short of a miracle, and she told me the Fire Department were on their way. I sat and ate two $10 gluten-free muesli dirt bars while I waited, giving the studio owners a big mental “FUCK YOU” as I chewed. I could hear sirens getting closer, then I heard a deep voice through the door.

“Can you reach the window?”
“Are there any other windows you can reach?”
“OK, we’re going to start cutting!”

The shutter lifted. The light afternoon sun and a group of strangers exercising their right to intrude on someone else’s problem greeted me. The men from the Fire Department made sure I was OK and left quickly. I watched them leave wishing I could too, while I explained to the next-door neighbors how I’d been abandoned.


After I assured them I was fine and gave them my details to pass on to the owner, I started walk-crying. This is a term all New Yorkers should be familiar with; it best describes the times you have no choice but to walk and cry simultaneously.

I walk-cried to the subway station and thought about the irony. I’d gone to the yoga studio to release the stress I’d been feeling and had ended up getting broken out of there crying.

What should I do to get over this? I likened the situation to being stuck in a traffic jam when you’re already late. Or perhaps, a “No Smoking” sign on your cigarette break.
All you can do is give it a quick “FUCK YOU” and try to find a new stress release.


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Justine McNamara

I'm an Australian living in New York. I work in marketing but I write about music, New York, and my own personal experiences.

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