Real life, huh? Can you believe it? You watch the TV sitcoms, and think “how silly, it could never happen”. Read on.

The safe in my hotel bedroom won’t open. Inside is stuff I need, passport, air ticket, money, spare toothbrush, a used train ticket, yesterday’s socks and a boiled sweet, the things you just don’t want to be without. It’s 11pm, and I’m leaving for the airport in the morning, so we need to sort this tonight. Easy job normally, seen it done, you need a clever little gadget.

Phone call to reception, and within a few minutes there’s a knock on the door, a man with a smart briefcase, out of which, I am happy to see, he takes a clever little gadget for opening electronic safes. Great, this won’t take long.

He plugs it in, and taps away for a few minutes (actually quite a lot of tapping, I thought you just typed in “open sesame”, and Bob’s your uncle, or doesn’t that work anymore? Abracadabra?), but nothing happens. He changes the battery in the front panel of the safe (which comes off if you know how, it’s attached by a wire to the innards), but nothing happens. He taps away again, nothing. Safe still closed. He makes a phone call and tells me “Our IT man is on his way, but he has left the hotel, and will be here in an hour”. Jeez, another hour? Well, it has to be done, make sure you knock hard when he arrives, I may be asleep.

Sometime later, the promised hard knock arrives, I was asleep, in bed, Mr IT enters the room. There are two of them, Mr Briefcase is with him. In my room. Mr IT (I was tempted to call him Mr Bugs, due to a rather unfortunate dental challenge, but that would be unfair, we’ll stick with his official title) tries again with the clever gadget, and nothing happens. He fiddles with the wires, but that doesn’t work. So he decides to go to the next room and get a replacement panel from the safe there.

This, dear reader, is where it all goes pear-shaped.

He and Mr Briefcase exit my room, and put the double lock on so it won’t close. I am still in bed, remember, and wasn’t ready to get out and hold doors for them. I should have. They come back with the replacement panel, fit it to my safe, fiddle around, and my safe is open. Hurrah. I say many thanks, well done, good night. “Sorry for the inconvenience sir, please don’t close your safe again, just to be sure”. OK, I won’t. I close my eyes. It’s midnight.

Mr IT and Mr Briefcase exit my room, but forget the double lock is on, so of course the door doesn’t close. They both re-enter my room, get the double lock off with difficulty, close the door to make sure it is now OK – and cannot open the door again. The sitcom begins.

Mr IT and Mr Briefcase are locked in my room, with yours truly.

Mr IT fiddles and fiddles (sorry to keep repeating that word, but there was a lot of it going on that night) but, no, the door doesn’t open. He tries to get the handle off, but needs a screwdriver (that wasn’t my assessment, it was his, he said it), none in sight (memo to self – in future, pack a clever little gadget to open electronic safes, and a screwdriver). Next thing I know, he goes out onto my balcony, and launches himself off! I’m on the second floor! But all is well, he returns 5 minutes later with a screwdriver. Fiddle, fiddle (sorry), nothing happens. The door lock is now in pieces, but the door remains closed. I’m still in bed, opening my eyes now and again. Couldn’t see much point in joining in, I’ll stay in the audience. After all, it is them that need to get out, I can wait until morning, and in any case there is still the balcony exit route, recently used to great effect by Mr IT.

I open my eyes, and lo and behold, there are now three of them, all huddling at my door, looking as if they are playing hide and seek, with someone else, now audible in the corridor, trying to find them (“come out, come out, wherever you are”). The third is dressed as Mr Maintenance Man, so that’s what we will call him (Mr MM for short). Where did he come from? He must have vaulted up from the ground floor to my second floor balcony, and in whilst I had my eyes closed (the presence of a ladder cannot, of course, be discounted, but “vaulted” sounds so much better than “climbed”)

There are now, as anyone conversant with the art and science of arithmetic will confirm, three people (not including me) in my room – Mr MM, newly arrived, Mr Briefcase, who has, on and off, been with me now for 2 hours, and Mr IT. I remain in the audience, taking photographs of the assembled team.

Fiddle, fiddle (sorry) by Mr MM, and the door opens, the door lock still in pieces. Mr MM2 (Mr MM’s twin, perhaps, they were dressed the same?) enters, and Mr Briefcase departs (it’s possible that there is a house rule that only three staff members are allowed to fiddle around in a guest’s room at any one time).

It is not over.

Mr MM, Mr MM2 and Mr IT are now together, bent over my door lock, trying to get the door to close, and to open again. It is not to be. It is 1am. They suggest I should change rooms. At 1am.

I arise (you haven’t, I trust, forgotten that I am abed), and cry “Enough. It is 1am, gentlemen, the door is now open, you have done well, now go, allow me to sleep, I will leave the door open, but with the chain on. Do not close the door when you leave”.

They left.

So that, dear reader, is why there were three people in my room that night. Perfectly simple, when you stop and think about it.

And my Tips? If your safe won’t open, don’t leave it to the last minute to get them to open it, you never know how many people you will need. And to avoid forgetting to empty the safe when you leave the hotel (it happens!), put one of the shoes you’re planning to wear when you leave in front of the safe door. I’ve never done it, I can never remember, but it sounds like a good plan to me. Anyone got a good tip for how to remember to use this tip??!!