Quite a few years ago, Chucky and I found ourselves in Malaga, Spain. We were both in college, and his parents had graciously invited me along on their family trip. We spent our days in more or less typical tourist fashion, venturing around little Spanish villas, the near-by cities and even crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to visit Tangiers Morocco.

The evenings, we had pretty much to ourselves, and although our plans to hop a train to France were thwarted, we managed to enjoy ourselves by wandering aimlessly around Malaga in a relentless search of interesting pubs and British girls to flirt with. We found plenty of both, but as wildly successful as we were at getting these British girls to agree to meet us for dates on subsequent days, we were decidedly less successful at getting them to actually show up.

We also found this poster with a very attractive woman named Ana advertising the Spanish public telephone service. We must have walked past it a dozen times, each time commenting on how attractive Ana was, and how much the poster made us desperately want to use one of these amazing Spanish public telephones to call her up and ask her out on a date. Sadly for us, and fortunately for Ana, however, her number was not listed anywhere on the poster; a fact which we found most upsetting, but was probably a blessing in hindsight because neither of us knew much Spanish and would have most likely made quite a blunder of any advances we might have managed.

On to plan “B” we thought. If we couldn’t have Ana’s phone number, we were most certainly not leaving Spain without her poster.

Now, it is important to realize that this poster was not only in a very public location near the beach, it was also enclosed behind locked glass, making any attempt to acquire it a fairly risky proposition. If we were going to nick it, we were going to first have to find a time when nobody was around, and secondly, a way to unlock the glass cabinet enclosing it.

It so happened that on our last day in Spain, we were were strolling back late at night from a pseudo British pub after a failed attempt to locate flirtable British girls when we noticed that the normally bustling sidewalk where Ana was located had become deserted. Problem one solved! Now just to get that glass cabinet open. I’m a roof and tunnel hacker, so I consider myself above forced entry, preferring more elegant methods like lock picking and social engineering, but I did not have my lock picks so we were forced to use more imaginative methods… Like the butter knife we had conveniently taken from the pub. We moved in to inspect and realized to our joy that the lock was placed directly in the middle of a very long and flimsy piece of aluminum that made up the frame for the poster to sit it.

An insertion of the better knife and a little twist popped the door open with a “dh-dh-dh-dh” sound that I will never forget. Chucky and I looked at each other, both a little surprised, but in total agreement that the only next step could be to take Ana down, roll her up and put her up Chucky’s sleve. This we did, and in a few short seconds we were off with Ana, having escaped Spanish jail and acquired just about the sweetest bit of travel memorabilia I have ever seen!

Ana now hangs in Chuck’s office down in Greenland NH.

Area of Safe Refuge

As Courtney and I meandered through the Las Vegas airport with nothing better to do, we stumbled across this crazy door. We pointed, we laughed, and we sat for some time wondering what what in the heck could possibly be in a room marked “Area of Safe Refuge”. Was it a safe room for refugees? Was it a place where one could meditate and regain one’s “center” after a long and disturbing flight? Was it a place where you could run to and be safe if the dreaded police were chasing you? We remained unsure about what the room was used for, but we were 100% sure that we had to have a look inside. We sneaked up to it, and gently and stealthily (at lease as stealthily as you can in an airport full of people) opened the door and looked inside…

A ladder! A lousy, stinking ladder and absolutely NOTHING else! Well, we thought, maybe the last person who needed safe refuge was a roofer and they put the ladder in there to make him feel more at home… Who knows.

Anyhow, once I got to a place where I could access google, I looked it up, and it turns out that an “Area of Safe Refuge” is a place where disabled people can go in the event of a fire of other type of disaster to wait for assistance. They are located in areas that are very structurally sound, fireproofed, and unlikely to be damaged easily or crumble.

The Area of Safe Refuge, according to BS5588: part 8 is: “an area that is enclosed with a fire resisting construction (other than any part that is an external wall of a building) and served directly by a safe route to a storey exit, evacuation lift or final exit, thus constituting a temporary safe space for disabled people to await assistance for their evacuation”.

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