Fake news? You can’t make this stuff up | Column

by | August 11, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: August 8, 2018 at 11:42 am

Fake news? You can’t make this stuff up.

Example: The bumbling burglar in Clark County, WA who broke into an escape room, then couldn’t get out.

If you don’t know, an escape room is a live-action game in which people are locked up with friends (or strangers) and try to get out. Players can choose their room—a bank vault, death row, creepy basement, etc. Everyone collaborates by utilizing clues, hints and props. The goal is finding a key that allows you to escape within the allotted time, usually an hour.

Our Washington guy did none of the above. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said Rye D. Wardlaw called 911 four times when he became trapped inside the Northwest Escape Experience in Vancouver.

That’s right: He broke into an escape room–and called the cops when he couldn’t, you know, escape.

Wardlow told dispatchers he was hiding in the escape room because his house was being burglarized, which is like running into a burning barn because you want to make s’mores.

When police responded to the address he gave they found a burning barn—just kidding. They realized he was lying and traced the 911 call back to Northwest Escape.

Amazingly, Wardlaw actually got out before they arrived. He was arrested when deputies spotted him strolling along with a stolen cell phone, a beer and a remote control, in case he found a TV. He was charged with second-degree burglary.

Widdle and I went to an escape room in West Ashley a few months ago, on impulse. My impulse. (Forget the fact that I’ve never finished a crossword and get disoriented in my own back yard.)

It was Saturday, and an escape room sounded more interesting than our usual date night, which is: Go out to eat, come home and pass out on the couch. And the online reviews for the escape room were great.

I bought our tickets for “death row” and at the appointed hour we went to the address—in a suburban office park–and received instructions: Once in the room, we had 60 minutes to get out. We could ask for three hints from the “host” via intercom.

We couldn’t wait to get started on this cool new adventure. Then a large family walked in, and the host said, “Here’s the rest of your team!”

Which is when I learned that if you don’t show up with a team, you will be assigned a team–of strangers. They were lovely people, from Moncks Corner. We made introductions and were ushered into the room (actually, three tiny connecting rooms–“cramped” is being generous.)

When you have eight people tearing up a small space to find hidden clues, it’s bedlam. I tried to pry open a lockbox, then started randomly pulling books off a shelf. Finally, I just stood still and bleated, “What? What?” and contributed absolutely nothing.

Luckily, everyone else was on the ball. Once they found the first clue (in a toilet) they were off, locating maps and codes, unlocking file cabinets and reaching under furniture. Widdle was having a great time.

They quickly progressed from the first room to the second room, then to the “death chamber.” By that point, I just went where I was told to go.

The death chamber is where it ended. We’d used up all the hints and were still stumped when the buzzer sounded. We didn’t escape. We slunk out in shame.

Afterwards, the host took a photo of everyone holding funny signs. I held one that said “weakest link.” Widdle held the sign that said, “I need a drink.” And we need some other ideas for date night.

Julie R. Smith, a lousy team player, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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