Years ago, I was covering a football game at a high school in eastern North Carolina, and I used the principal's office to write my story. This was the day of the Bubble computer, a cumbersome abomination compared to the modern notebook, and I was going to send the story in via phone line. No e-mail in those days.
The principal wasn't going to wait for me, so he locked me in his office, and I had to climb out of his window! After writing and sending the story, I opened the window, but I realized I couldn't turn off the light first. So I left the light on. I climbed out the window, holding onto the windowsill with my right hand and the computer case with my left.
Naturally, I couldn't close the window behind me, so I left it open.The lights on and the window open. No security for the principal's office.
I slid down the wall to my full extension, and I realized there was nearly an eight-foot drop to the ground! So here I was, a 250-pound sports writer, hanging to the windowsill with one hand and desperately clutching that computer with the other. After a beat, I dropped into the mud below me, naturally, then slogged my way around to my truck.
Free at last, free at last, free ... Well, actually, no.
I drove to the exit and realized they'd locked the gate! I couldn't drive into a deep ditch to get out, so I had to go back to the principal's office to call the police (no cell phones back then, either). I shinnied back up the wall and through the window to make the call.
The only good thing is that, this time, I knew what I faced. I made the call, turned off the light and went over and climbed out the window. I couldn't lower the window all the way, but it was close.
Finally, about midnight, a policeman came by, listened to my explanation at least twice, opened the gate, and I drove a hundred miles home...
... with skinned knuckles, a wrenched wrist, bruised knees, muddy shoes and pants legs, and a slightly banged-up Bubble.
Anything for a story.
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists
Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie
Entries from The Dog Blog
Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)