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Conference Hunger Games : How I escaped a locked bathroom

I didn’t know this at the time, but ever since I was born, I have been on an epic search to find the best place in the world to be locked in a bathroom.  Tell you what, folks… getting locked in a bathroom is exactly what you envisioned.  IMG_5024Ok…. Let me explain.

The drama unfolded on a random Saturday in Strasbourg.  Strasbourg is a lovely city in France with a wonderful mix of German and French architecture; it’s pretty close to the German border.  For some strange reason, this part of the world also has the best pizza known to man.  To fly under the cover of darkness, they have changed the name of the pizza to something I can’t pronounce.  But that makes perfect sense because this pizza is amazing, highly addictive and would put the Italians to shame.  I digress…..

The smartest people in the entire universe and myself, came together at the International Space University for a pretty good reason.  First up, ISU is a pretty cool place;  this is where you can earn a Masters in Space Studies… yes, there is an actual place IN THE WORLD that is dedicated to studying actual space stuff.IMG_5091ISU hosted this SpaceUP event.  Ok… now get ready to get your “geek on” because if you’re a space geek like myself, you’re about to squeal like a little girl.  SpaceUP is an “unconference.”  That means that there’s basically a clean slate of set times and rooms just waiting for speakers to fill it up and people like me to hear what the heck you’re gonna talk about.  The cool thing is, anyone can present anything at the conference as long as it is space related in some capacity – pretty cool huh?

I am ABSOLUTELY NOT a rocket scientist or engineer but gave a lecture at a SpaceUp event. There’s absolutely no pressure to give a presentation and you don’t really needed to have the dreaded powerpoint at the ready… but it’s still really good to participate.

After one of the kick arse presentations – and yes, there were a few that made me go OMG! …. like “space bread!” Betcha weren’t expecting that!  Yes, there is a German company with the blueprints to make actual BREAD IN SPACE… every time I read that line, I just want to say out loud in a deep echoing voice… “BREAAAADDD INNNNN SPAAAAACE.”  I can’t make this stuff up – someone else actually came up with the idea and they’re making it work !  Space bread will be a thing – soon!  The bread puns were endless as well!

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Ok – I’ve diverted way too far.  But, now the stage has been set and you can kinda feel the mood of the event.

This is the bathroom fallout:  I went around the corner to use the facilities and wouldn’t you know it… I never came out.   The handle came out in my hand and I couldn’t open the door.  Somehow the universe chose me as their tribute to be held captive in the bathroom.    I was now living in the Conference Hunger Games.

Reality had set in… I was stuck.  Nobody was gonna notice that I was gone.  Everyone else was too busy attending the cool chats – space bread – moon smelling – homemade rockets – I mean, WHY would anyone miss me with all that awesome happening?

I started thinking… I’m at a space conference…  What would an astronaut do?  I looked around.  What did I have to work with?  Humm… There’s a sink… Nothing at this moment was really standing out.

I checked my pockets.  Ah ha!  I have my phone!  And, thank gawwwwd I still have Wifi!  I tweeted out my location to the world and help was on its way.  I was feeling a lot better, but there was still lots to do.

Eventually, through the power of clever engineering, I was removed from the bathroom with great success.  I also must note that a lot of people think that twitter doesn’t really have a function – I beg to differ!  I just proved that twitter has life-saving capabilities for idiots like me that are inadvertently chosen by the universe to be locked in a bathroom for an indefinate amount of time.

So, that got me thinking… has anyone given thought about an emergency exit plan for a bathroom lockdown?  No. Never. Probably the first you’ve heard of anyone discuss such a plan – believe me, now more then ever, is the time to have a bathroom safety plan.

Here is my very own no-frills checklist I derived after experiencing the “Conference Hunger Games” first hand.

  1. Find your closest exit – it’s probably the door you came in and on occassion, it could be above you.  Calculate the sink to ceiling ratio.  Can you put your left foot on the paper dispenser and hoist yourself up and out of the bathroom?
  2. Provisions if you’re stranded – come prepared by bringing the best gourmet raspberry jam and a croissant you can find especially if you’re in France (this is also a great way to make friends). Keep these in your pocket and at the ready – baked goods can be used for bargaining, making friends with the locals or keeping personal hunger pains at bay.
  3. Keep concealed “tools” at the ready – Dear gawwwwd… what happens if there is a alien attack whilst you’re at a space conference?  How the heck will you manage? Pens are a good start for hand to hand combat, a name tag lanyard makes for a great tourniquet in a dire situation… also, you can MacGyver the shit out of anything when there’s a paper clip involved. Also, please refer to French baked goods for bargaining powers.
  4. Toilet paper is for when you get really “desperate” for lack of better terms – wink wink – Toilet paper is also very good to make a fire to keep you warm or little S.O.S. balls to roll under the door.
  5. Wifi connection – if you’re chillin at the wrong end of the conference in the sketchy toilet that nobody visits, be sure that your wifi connection reaches that far – or at least have a dodgy SIM card that works for the country you’re in. This helps when you need to tweet your location to the ENTIRE WORLD to be saved by a mad scientist (or two).
  6. Keep at least one scientist or engineer on speed dial – any flavour of scientist at a space conference will do, because I mean who knows what could happen!  Imagine being rescued and somehow being directly involved to solving a bathroom paradox all at the same time. The  opportunities are endless and it’s a great way to indirectly try and save humanity!

In the end I was saved that day by two lab coats with a wrench.  You can’t beat that.

So next time you’re keen to venture into the realm of a public bathroom whilst at a conference – remember what you may get yourself into.   IMG_5085

taraustralis View All

A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!

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