Locked In06 May 2005
Holiday weekends like Ascension are great for sysadmins. We can try out system changes without bothering anyone's work, and if something breaks we have a couple of days to get things going again. So I took the opportunity yesterday to update a system, and of course it didn't come back up. We don't have any serial consoles set up yet, so I drove in to see what had gone wrong.
Our provider is located in an industrial part of Hamburg. They have a parking lot in back, but it's locked up outside of office hours. So I parked on the street, poked the system to get it back up, and went out the back door to drive back home.
As the door locked behind me, I realized that it was the wrong door. I was locked in the parking lot, a very well walled and gated parking lot. There was no way out.
There were short stretches where there was no wall, but a 3.5 m grated metal fence, with grates at the top slanted to the outside to discourage climbing. One stretch along the back was along a canal (fact: Hamburg has more canals than either Venice or Amsterdam), so I would have landed in the water. The other stretch was along the neighboring lot, with a potential landing on concrete. Not being particularly athletic, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to control my landing.
Before risking my bones and ankles, I decided to make one more round and check all the doors leading out. Luckily, I found an unlocked door to another lobby, and was able to escape to freedom without breaking bones or setting off alarms. But 20 minutes of being locked in a parking lot was enough excitement for one day, and was a career risk of being a sysadmin that I had never before considered.