Apparently People Really Do Lock Themselves in Storage Units

Tom Cox |
Earlier this summer I blogged about a woman who allegedly survived 63 days locked in a storage unit. When that happened back in 2002, people questioned the credibility of her story. This time, there’s no such debate over Andrea Rotz and her self storage confinement. Rotz, a college student at Valparaiso, was headed home for the summer. She decided to drop off some things in a storage unit before leaving. Just as she was finishing up, the overhead door fell and locked itself, leaving her trapped inside. Because Rotz thought she wouldn’t be at the storage facility for long, she did not have her cell phone on her person, nor did she tell anyone of her plan to stop by the unit. She was trapped with no food, no water, no light, no phone and no one even aware that she was there. Let’s back up and look at the events leading up to Ms. Rotz’s unfortunate event, which seemed to foreshadow this accident better than a Shakespearian play. Her day began without a hitch. She was probably taking her time packing for the road trip; the only task left was to leave a few things in storage. That was, until her neighbor came outside and noted that Rotz's car was blocking their vehicle. Rotz couldn’t locate her keys at that moment, so she assumed they had been locked in the trunk. She rolled the car aside in neutral and then called for roadside assistance. After talking to a friendly phone robot and wasting part of her afternoon she saw that her keys were in fact not in her trunk, but instead still in her ignition.* Once on the highway, she noticed that her wallet was missing. She quickly realized where it was—as it flew off the roof of her car on U.S. 30. She pulled over and fought her way through deadly traffic to retrieve it from a pile of garbage. At this point Rotz couldn’t imagine her day getting any worse. Wrong. Trapped in the rental garage with night approaching, she shouted and banged for about 20 minutes. It wasn’t until she fell into a state of pure panic that she finally heard someone outside. Under normal circumstances, no employees would have been on the site until morning. Rotz was lucky that the facility had recently instituted a special patrol. This is where the story really dips into foolishness. This particular special patrol’s duty was to explore for animals—after a live cat was discovered living in a storage unit! It seems that some renter – likely not a PETA card-carrier or even a cat lover like this crazy cat lady right out of The Simpsons – kept a cat in her unit to catch the mice nesting in her stored items. The resident mouser had been there several weeks when discovered by a concerned customer who heard the sounds of feline distress coming from a small, locked unit. This time, the moral of my “cautionary tale” is twofold: (1) If you’re a flake** either glue your cell phone to your body, or always tell someone where you’re going. (2) Keep your pets out of your storage units! Not only is housing pets in storage against your rental contract, but it’s cruel and rather creepy. Pets can die in such inhospitable conditions. *I’m kind of wondering how she missed seeing her keys in the ignition while shifting the car into neutral. **Not that there’s anything wrong with being a flake.