Tonight was my first lecture of the semester - I'm hoping they forget about the terrible first impression of the course after a few weeks. Not that the lecture itself went badly - in fact, I think they enjoyed the idea of International Relations as a big game of Tic Tac Toe. No - it was the "locked door" incident that made me look silly.
I got to the room about quarter to six - to find about a dozen students and one of my TAs standing in the hallway. "You have a key to this room, right?" she asked me. Ack. After hours - locked room - lecture in the hallway? I zipped upstairs to see if I could find an evening custodian or open office or key in a treasure chest (I've played enough SNES RPGs to know that there's a treasure chest with a key for every locked door in the dungeon) or something. I found an open custodian's closet, but no custodian. Inside the door, though, was a sheet with phone numbers - I dialed the one at the top of the list, got the Custodial Supervisor, and gave him the rundown - he was on the west side of campus, but said he could be at my building in five minutes.
I went back down to the hallway, where 60-70 students were now milling, and made a loud announcement about getting them into the room soon. So far I come across pretty well in this story, huh? Hold your horses, there, Mr. J.Bro-doesn't-sound-all-that-foolish! Because as I was making this loud announcement, a girl opens the classroom door from the inside to ask what's going on.
Here's what I think happened - the door handles to my classroom don't actually turn - the doors just pull open. I think one student came, tried to turn the handle, thought it was locked, and sat down to wait for someone with more authority and a key. Another student came, heard the door was locked, decided not to try it (since that would be an obvious insult to Student #1's intelligence), and sat down too. More students come, hear the locked-door story, and have no reason to try the door themselves - after all, why would eight other students be sitting in the hallway if the door wasn't really locked? I get there and find a dozen students and one TA outside - what reason do I have to doubt their story? Eventually, the hallway crowd reached a level that qualifies as teeming, at which point I make my announcement loudly enough to be heard over them, alerting the students inside the room to our presence.