A SCOTS woman learnt the meaning of community spirit after she was forced to reach out for help from online locals after getting locked in a public toilet.
Louise Sertoglu had been out with her husband, sister and two-year-old son in Portobello, Edinburgh on Saturday when she nipped in to the public toilets on Pipe Lane.
The 35-year-old had walked past the toilet attendant and was in a cubicle when moments later the lights went out and she heard the door close.
Coming to the horrific realisation that she was locked in, HR specialist Louise was forced to launch a desperate appeal on social media after pleas to the council and police went unfounded.
Louise had initially tried to bang on all the windows in an attempt to get the attention of the attendant, who was by then out of earshot.
She then rang her husband and sister who called the police and Edinburgh Council to no avail.
With her son getting fed up and time ticking on, in a final moment of desperation, Louise took to social media to plead for help.
She wrote: “Urgent! And really embarrassing so I might have to delete this later.
“I’m locked in the public loos [sic] the end of Pipe Lane. I planned to nip in quickly and the attendant locked up and left.
“We can’t get through to anyone. Can anyone help?”
The post received hundreds of likes and comments as locals flocked to her aid whilst other attempted to cheer her up with toilet jokes.
She wrote in the comments: “I’m actually raging, my toddler is outside and it was really obvious that I was in here. There’s a phone number in here but it says it’s no longer in use.”
One person wrote: “Tumbles to the left of me, Joppa to the right, Here I am stuck in the middle of loos.”
Another person said: “I’m p***ing myself laughing.”
A third joked: “I am a locksmith and I do odd jobbies.”
A fourth added: “Just another bog standard post. It’s good to LAV at others’ expense, usually it costs a penny.”
After a series of events, Louise’s ordeal came to a climax as one user came to her rescue, commenting: “My partner is a supervisor and has made a phone call and someone is on route.”
Almost 40 minutes later, Louise was freed by a local locksmith, much to the relief of both her and her waiting family.
In a final update, Louise shared a photo with a thumbs up post and a relieved grin on her face. She wrote:
“I’m free! Can’t believe my five minutes of fame got used up for being stuck in a loo.”
Speaking today, Louise said: “So I went in, the ladies and gents were both open with the lights on and the attendant was in that box area at the door as I went past.
“I don’t know if they saw me but I went straight past them.
“Then, when I was in the cubicle, suddenly the lights went off and I heard the door close and lock.
“I went out as quick as I could and banged on the door and shouted hello and they were nowhere to be seen, there were a few doors but they were all locked.
“There was a phone number on the wall, an Edinburgh Council one, but when I called it there was an automated message saying the number was no longer in use.
“So, I called my husband, and between him and my sister, as well as the staff at Shrimp Wreck and the amusements they called the police, the council, and I’m not sure who else but they were desperately trying to find someone to help.
“My sister said that none of them found it funny, they were just shocked that the attendant had just left without checking that nobody was there.
“It was also fairly horrible in there, there’s a big section where the ceiling has caved in and it was pretty cold and wet.
“Out of desperation, I put a post up.
“I did think twice about posting it because obviously it was fairly embarrassing to broadcast to thousands of people that I was stuck in a toilet but I’d probably been there for 15 minutes or so at that point and, speaking to my husband, it didn’t seem that they’d found someone with a key.
“Straight away my phone started going off non-stop and there was a mix of practical advice and help (a few said they were calling around as they had partners who worked for the council), horror at the fact that the attendant would lock up without checking, as well as banter and jokes that kept my spirits up.”
Louise continued: “It seems like people were invested in the drama and following the story as it unfolded as well, asking for selfies and updates.
“My child was outside and although my husband was there, I knew he would need to take him home to get him to bed and I was panicking internally at the thought of being stuck there for potentially hours.
“There are two sides to it I think though, it’s definitely a funny story and some of the comments on that post really did make me laugh, someone also said she was going to come and put After Eights under the door which was lovely.
“But on a serious note, if it’d been a child locked in, someone taken ill or even just someone without a phone it could have gone another way and I really would like someone from the council to tell me why this happened and what exactly they are going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“You know when someone campaigning usually says ‘if this message can change one person’s life it’ll have been worth it’?
“Well if I can prevent one person from being locked inside an Edinburgh Council-run public toilet then my work is done.
“I think I’d been in there for 40 minutes and I could hear a few people outside, they said they didn’t have the right key but eventually they found it and freed me.
“They said they and their partners had seen the post on Facebook and that’s why they’d come down.
“So, I would like to extend a huge thank you to the people of Portobello for helping me through such a ridiculous ordeal and for setting me free.
“I think the biggest lesson of all is that if I hadn’t had my phone with me I would have been really in trouble because my family were too far away to hear me and it was such a cold and rainy evening that I don’t think many people were nearby.”
Edinburgh Council has been contacted for comment.