Three minutes, 21 seconds.
That's how much time we had left when we finally got out.
It was my first experience in an escape room. Sure, I've heard about them for some time, and always thought the idea was intriguing: Using wits and teamwork with friends or coworkers to solve intricate puzzles and unlock doors to eventually prove you're a Sherlock prodigy.
I'm more than down with that.
But like most things, I just kind of forgot about it.
Then, a close friend and her husband recently tried one out near St. Pete Beach for her birthday. She would not stop raving about it.
We had to go, she said. And so we went.
Since everyone in our group lives closer to downtown St. Petersburg, we decided to try out Escape St. Pete, which opened about a year ago at 1041 Central Ave.
The building is small and wedged between other boutique-style storefronts. Most people may not know it exists. I didn't know about it until we found it online and made our reservations.
The front door is locked and you have to press a buzzer to signal the person inside. You can't get in without a reservation.
Our room was called "The Science Laboratory." Our mission was to escape the room by solving a series of puzzles in order to catch the crooked doctor before he fled the country.
Saying it was fun would be a sore understatement.
Our host explained the rules. All your belongings are stowed away in lockers before entering the room. You can take apart most things, but not all. Warning signs help with that.
He tells us the objective: The amount of codes needed to eventually crack the ultimate one that will get us out. We have one hour.
I won't give anything away, because spoilers are the worst, but know that black lights, secret compartments and color-coded clues are all involved.
The room has a TV anchored on the wall with a countdown clock that displays your remaining time. You are allowed some help from the host if you're stuck. He gave us a handful of hints, written out on the screen when we yelled out in frustration trying to figure out a particularly annoying riddle or clue.
Apart from friends and family, escape rooms are increasingly being used by companies to build teamwork and strengthen cooperation and communication among employees.
While our group took almost the entire 60 minutes, each one of us played an essential role, just in different ways.
Our clan was comprised of a massage therapist, an advertising specialist, a journalist, a bar manager and a sound engineer. And we needed everyone's skills: language, math, logic ... the works.
My advice is just this: Search everywhere. Inspect everything. And most importantly, work together.
You can't do it alone.
Contact Samantha Putterman at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @samputterman.