Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Close Every Door

Three stories for you:

Story #1 - My Stupidity

The day I signed the papers for my place, I naturally dashed right over. Since having a garage was a new feature for me, I immediately found the door opener in the laundry room, slid it into it's little place on the driver's sun visor, opened the garage up, drove my car in, and then hit the button next to the garage door to close it, relishing the thought that my car wasn't going to be 200 degrees when I drove away later.

That's when I realized that I had just locked the only opener I had to the garage inside it.

After a series of phone calls (my real estate agent's assistant, my sister, my real estate agent, a locksmith) and some begging for some late emergency house call, a locksmith met me at the garage an hour or so later. He cracked open his tool kit and with a lot of swearing and fiddling opened my garage door.

So I carried the opener with me in my purse for a few days until I bought and installed one of those key-in-the-code openers. And about a week after the lock-in, another locksmith came out and fixed the broken door latch so I could still get inside, even if the power was out.

Believe it or not, that was not the first time I've locked myself out of somewhere just after moving in....

Story #2 - Why I'm Afraid of Sliding Glass Doors

Two apartments ago, the last time I had a balcony, I stepped through the sliding glass door my first morning there to enjoy the lovely view of the parking lot. Since it was July and the AC was running, I shut the door behind me.

What I didn't realize until about 3 minutes later when I heard the phone ringing and I tried to go inside to answer it was that the sliding door had a faulty latch. It had been installed upside down, so whenever it got bumped or jarred the latch would easily slip into a locked position.

The balcony was not that far off the ground, but I knew there was no point in climbing down and trying the front door - I hadn't opened that door yet that morning, which meant it was still locked, bolted, and chained. I spent after 15 minutes alternating between trying to pry the door open and pacing in frustration.

By then, some of my neighbors noticed me out there and came over to help. One of the hopped the railing and hoisted himself onto my balcony to also try prying/jiggling the door open, but it was steadfastly locked. Finally, one of the spectators called the landlord to report the young lady stuck on the balcony. He drove over with some screwdrivers and keys and attacked the front door. It was at this point that we discovered that the front door's chain was apparently installed by the same workman - it had been attached to the door vertically rather than horizontally. All the landlord had to do, then, was open the door as far as the chain would allow, stick his hand through the crack, then lift the chain off it's holder. Voila! I was free!

That's why I never fully shut sliding doors behind me.

Story #3 - The Nice Locksmith

It took me a little over a week to get my mail at this new place. The previous owners claimed they never actually used the property's mailbox, so they had no idea where a key would be. I drove out the post office, and they claimed it wasn't under their jurisdiction. The postal worker did give me the name of a locksmith they work with who does discount work. Indeed, he said it would only cost $45 to get a new lock on the mailbox (as opposed to the $100 it cost for the new garage door lock, or the $95 it cost for the emergency door opening from story #1).

The locksmith promised to come out "sometime Friday afternoon or Saturday". He actually showed up at 1:00 on Friday, right when I was walking up to my front door with arms full of groceries. He gave me my new mail key, and then handed back $20 of the payment. He explained that while he was working on the lock, he had started talking to some of my neighbors. They told him that the HOA had a guy who would sometimes change locks for new tenants for free. The locksmith felt bad that I was paying so much for a service that apparently didn't need to be done, so he offered me some of the money back.

So, after three different locksmiths visiting in one week's time, I know for a fact they make a good living. However, they can also be decent people.

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