Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oh, the Embarrassment

Sometimes I embarrass my family. Oh, I know,
you're SO shocked and surprised. It's not like I have Tourette's or anything, although that's probably coming right up on my ongoing list of mental deteriorations. I'm not certain that what I have is a genetic anomaly or a hobby that's a trifle out of control.

When we go out to a museum or an antique store or a public building... OK, ANYWHERE, I am driven to try the knob on any closed door. I've never even heard of anyone else having this peculiar aberration, so I am going on record now by claiming it and naming it Kleylein Syndrome. I consider this failing to be a full-blown disability worthy of consideration (and perhaps compensation) under both ADA and ADAAA.
The ADA has done fabulously positive things, and is a tribute to fairness and rational thought. You may know that the ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADAAA is (I'm not kidding) the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008. One more Act and we'll have a three act Act. Boiled down, when my syndrome is proven to fall under such auspices, these acts would protect me from discrimination because I'm a dork.

Other dorks are already protected by this same law and some have even achieved some modest notoriety.

Of course, I've gotten into trouble more than once opening doors to people's offices and there is one especially tragic event when I was touring the US Capitol Building. I should probably try to forget that one. I think my record has been expunged. I think.

As far as I
can tell, I've always had this problem, it didn't just START one day. All children have curiosity, mine just got... let's say... 'a little out of hand'. (It's tough finding an appropriate doorknob joke!)

My earliest recollection of actually getting into trouble because of Kleylein Syndrome was fourth grade. That makes me what? Nine or ten years old? Geez.

I was attending beautiful and historic William Jennings Bryan Elementary School in North Miami, Florida and we were playing on the school grounds. We had to play on the school grounds because there weren't any parks or anything less dangerous than the open streets or perhaps the railroad tracks. Don't laugh, my brother and I played on the tracks all the time, getting our pennies flattened by huge Florida East Coast locomotives. And we both made it to sort-of adulthood. Go figure.

Bryan is historic because the building opened in 1928, which for Miami is an amazingly old building! In Miami, anything with a few years on it is quickly torn down if a hurricane doesn't do it first. Well, I guess that keeps everything fresh. Actually, the current building is the second school on that very site since the first one (the third Arch Creek School), built in 1918, burned down to the ground in 1927. Look how stately and colorful Bryan looks today.
Notice the gates on the front entrance here? Hmm? Well, in 1957 there were gates on every entrance just as there are now. Every entrance... except one. For some reason, lost in the mist of history, the architect (if there was one) decided to stick an extra room out the side of the otherwise geometrically perfect square. A single room with a portico and... a door. A regular old, run-of-the-mill gate-less door.
The poorly-taken photo below shows the northeast corner of the main building with the doorway (now sealed) plainly visible under the portico. Click on the image for an even closer look. Back in the day, there was a door there. A door with a doorknob.
And the doorknob called to me, as doorknobs do to people with my devastating and debilitating illness. The doorknob had been broken for years, it just spun round and round on it's little doorknob axis. Everyone knew that the doorknob was broken so they left it alone. But they didn't know that, while busted, it was also (wait for it) unlocked!

So, with the sparkling magical glow that surrounded me whenever I got near to a closed door, I tried it and it opened right up for me. One step and I was in the school! Nine or ten years old and totally unsupervised! Not an adult in the whole place!! WOW!

Or so I thought.

As I stepped out of the classroom into the hallway, I came face to belly with the head custodian who happened to live directly across the street on NE 13th Avenue. Remember when we used the term 'custodian'? That's a pretty classy word, they had 'custody' of the building. Later in life I was the custodian of the data center I ran. Same thing.

I wish I could remember his name, but Mr. _______ was mostly interested in how the %@&$ I had gotten in. So, I told him and he said, "Show me!"

Do you think I could make that knob open again? Ohhh, noooooo! When Monday morning arrived, there was a new doorknob and the court-martial hearing was fairly brief. Thank goodness my teacher, Mrs. Mugovero, spoke on my behalf so the lashings were kept to a minimum. Nowadays, no jury in the world would convict me because I am damaged goods afflicted as I am with the horror and embarrassment of Kleylein Syndrome.

I'm amazed that my family puts up with me.

Update 06/19/2013: It took a while, but my friends on the William Jennings Bryan Facebook page have come through (as they always do) with the name of Bryan's custodian. He was Leonard Murgatroyd and at the time of the incident above, he was just 46 years old. Mr. Murgatroyd had given up his career in taxidermy to be the custodian at Bryan. And we were the better for it.


Leah Kleylein said...

First of all, you are right, I don't know how we put up with you. Secondly, I'd like to comment on long acronymns like ADAAA. I like long acronyms because people turn them into words. In my industry we have this government acronym PDUFA (Prescription Drug User Fee Act). We pronounce it "puh-DOO-fah". More recently we gained the fabulous FDAAA (Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act) which most of us have taken to pronouncing as "fuh-DAAH". It really livens up a telecon, trust me. So my question is, do we pronunce the equally fabulous ADAAA as "ah-DAAH" or "AH-daah". I could go on forever...

Redcay Family said...

I'm going to have to agree with Leah that the first thing that came to mind was, you are right, I don't know how we put up with you.
Secondly, I want you to know you have given this affliction to BOTH your grandchildren.
Thirdly, Leah just made me LOL....

Dave said...

Thank goodness your malaise isn't genetic! It isn't is it?