From a young age, I was always very interested in puzzles. I would sit cross legged on the floor of our kitchen with the pieces from my massive I Spy puzzle spread out over the tiles. There I would sit for hours until I put them all together. And I always would. I had a knack for puzzles. But despite all of my experience, my confidence deserted me when I, along with three of my friends from high school, decided to test our puzzle solving skills by attempting to Escape the Room. Nobody can fault me for having my doubts. The statistics on Escape the Room's website weren't exactly comforting... Apparently only 20% of participants managed to escape within the allotted 60 minutes. Yikes. My friends were pretty anxious as well. Mainly because while we knew four of the ten people who would be in our room (us), there were still six people who were unaccounted for. Six complete strangers. And if they weren't freaking detectives in training, we were goners!
We got to the building and tried to figure out these ultra complicated metal puzzles as we waited for the rest of our teammates to arrive. The puzzles were designed to get our brains warmed up before entering the room. Only my friend Samantha was able to solve one of them, and this did not exactly boost our morale. I mean, if only one of us could make sense of a puzzle that was outside of the room, what hope did we have once we were actually trapped inside?
The rest of the people in our group showed up, and we had little time for introductions before we were led into the very room we would be locked inside for the next hour. The room we selected was the office theme and was modeled after your average office: A few desks, some chairs, and an AC. That was basically it. To the right of the door, our only way out, was a screen where our remaining time was posted. It was a bit discomforting to see our time ticking away at a seemingly alarming rate. But we had no choice but to move and move quickly if we wanted to beat the odds and escape.
Despite the fact that we were all finding clues at fairly frequent intervals, many of our clues seemed to only fuel our confusion rather than aid our efforts in escape. We moved our clues to a table near the door so we could view them all together, and yet still met some obstacles. It felt like the answer was right on the tip of our tongues. So close... If only we could have a hint! As if our prayers were answered, the woman who had been monitoring our game via a camera the entire time, decided to take some pity on us and type (on the screen where our remaining time was quickly dwindling) a couple of gentle reminders to point us in the right direction.
Although the kind lady gave us an idea of what we needed to figure out, we still found ourselves running into walls. And a brief glance at our time (less than 15 minutes left!) sent us into a state of panic.
A pain had begun to work its way into the pit of my stomach, and it was a pain that I had previously only associated with math. That's when I knew how badly I wanted to win. I didn't want to leave that room knowing that we hadn't made it. I knew it was irrational and just a game, but suddenly a competitiveness had overcome me that I hadn't seen in years. And it was just in time, too.
A man ended up finding a final key that we assumed would open a locked box, but ultimately ended up opening a lock so simple that it never occurred to me. And just like that, we had won! And with 11 minutes to spare! Our screeches of victory echoed off the walls. The lady who had been so generous to us in the midst of our desperation then proceeded to explain to us in detail each and every one of the clues and what they meant. Feeling a truly inexplicable high, we cruised out into the hallway where we took our winner's photo.