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Journal: Locked in at Toronto General

The main hallway of the old Charlie Conacher Wing actually looks kind of nice in its half-demolished state, with all the drywall off the original bricks.
Toronto General Hospital (late February 2003): I stopped in at Toronto General to check on the destruction of the much beloved Charlie Conacher wing. I navigated my way there through the tunnels under the hospital (not necessary, but why not?), and soon came up into the area where the College Wing meets the now-abandoned Charlie Conacher wing. I stared sadly at the locked door set into the thick cinder-block walls that have been erected between the part of the hospital that is still in use and the beautiful wing that is in the midst of being demolished. Climbing the nearest stairs, I found that similar walls and locked doors had been constructed on all three connecting floors, that all the doors were labelled "No Entry Due to Construction" [what a lie!] and that the doors on the first and second floors were locked.
       To my surprise, however, the knob to the door on the third floor turned in my hand. It made sense, I suppose: it wasn't like the hospital was going to give every single worker on the project his own key to the wing. Peeking through a crack in the door, I could see perhaps two dozen workers busily working away amid the huge clouds of dust. Obviously I wouldn't be able to explore this level while they were actively working on it, but there was no one between me and the staircase leading to the other levels of the empty wing. I closed the door behind me and very quietly crept over to the door and skipped down the stairs, pausing only to rub some drywall dust into my coat and hair so I'd be more likely to pass for a construction worker if I ran into anyone.

Wreckage. Debris.
Most rooms feature large holes in the wall and tall piles of debris.
       The second floor was much more like it — dust and noise filtered down through cracks in the roof, but I had the whole floor to myself. As long as I stayed clear of the windows, no one would see me. I wandered the stripped-down halls and the badly beaten rooms freely, taking lots of sad but beautiful pictures. At one point I noticed a thick cable running beneath a locked steel door. A locked door in a wing already closed and locked? How very secure! Obviously, I thought, there must be something cool in there. The lock was on my side of the door, so I unlocked it and headed through, easing the door shut behind me.
       "Click-k," said the door.
       "Oh fuuuccck," said the ninja.
       That extra k had been the sound of few pins too many tumbling into place; trying the door, I found that it had indeed locked behind me. Locked tight. Alright, I told myself. No need to panic yet. I was in a short hallway with eight or nine rooms branching off of it. It was quite possible that one of these rooms would be connected to a fire escape or some other exit. Forcing myself to calm down, I tried to remain casual as I browsed the various rooms, even stopping to take a few pictures of the large holes in the walls and the tall stacks of debris. But, after examining all the rooms thoroughly, twice, and then after examining the whole wing throughly one last time, twice, I still had not managed to find any possible exit. I tried the door again. No, it was still locked. I ran up to the door from a distance and kicked at the area beside the lock. No, the steel door did not come out of the steel frame. I yelled out "HELLO!" No answer.

Wreckage. Debris.
I pictured my skeleton lying amid the rubble.
       I'd been locked in for almost an hour now, and I realized that I really was trapped, thoroughly trapped, in a locked, neglected section of a locked, neglected floor of a locked, neglected wing. It seemed clear that I would remain trapped here until I starved to death, my brittle skeleton eventually falling to the wrecking ball at the same time as the rest of the wing. Liz was obviously going to be very mad at me.
       I didn't actually think I would die there, as I could see some workers on the floor above me through the windows, and I was sure I could get their attention if I needed to... but doing so would certainly earn me a trip to the security office at the very least. It seemed so unfair to me that I was going to be busted for just a tiny bit of browsing, when just the night before I'd been doing so much riskier stuff at Gooderham and Worts.
       I began to prepare to surrender. I went through my digital camera and deleted all my incriminating pictures of doors, alarms, signs, workers, etc., leaving in only the pictures of the abandoned rooms. I took some proofs of Infiltration 20 out of my bag and stuffed them into a nearby garbage pile. I sighed and began to think of how I'd phrase my call for help.
       Just then, however, I thought I heard a whistling noise somewhere on the other side of the door. I pressed my ear up against the door and listened, my heart warming and filling with joy as I heard the sweet, sweet notes growing closer. A call for help would not be necessary; instead, I attempted a businesslike rap on the door. Seconds later, the door was opened by a smiling middle-aged worker, who I thanked profusely.
       "Wow," he said. "You've had a hell of a lot of luck. Nobody comes through here." He laughed and kept heading down the hallway, apparently not interested in any explanations or excuses I might provide — not that I could have lied to someone to whom I was so deeply grateful. Being not at all eager to push my luck, I left the hospital by the nearest exit and headed home.

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