Locked Out


Today’s High:  91º

Do you know the feeling?  That realization as you pull the door closed behind you that you have just locked the door with your keys inside the house?  Not only that, but you’re wearing your swimming suit; and your cellphone is inside along with your keys.  And of course the car doors are locked too — not that there was anything in the car that would have helped get into the house… sigh.

Such was our Monday afternoon.  A bit of angst; more than a little comic relief as friends made ridiculous suggestions about where we might sleep overnight, or how we might get back into the house just to keep us smiling.  I missed my dip in the pool.  Peggy  enjoyed a much longer stay there while I was scouting a locksmith and all in all it turned out to be an “interesting” afternoon.

We ultimately got into the house — no worries, mate. In the end the experience it cost us no more than it would have had we not gotten locked out — there’s a story there to follow a paragraph or two from now.  And by the time our dinner was done cooking (slow cooker meal also going while we were locked out) we were in the house and all comfy.

When we moved into the house we received two keys from the previous owner.  Four locks on two doors:  two key-in-knob locks on one key and the two deadbolts on the other key.  Two keys were never going to satisfy the way we live — that meant that only one of us actually had the keys to get into the house.  However, knowing that doing anything about locks was going to cost something over $100.00 and having drained our bank account down lower than we usually take it I had been waiting until the first of April (I actually set the date in my head in December knowing what our cash flow is) to call a locksmith and have him rekey all the locks to a single key — coincidentally to the key for our coach (just to make things simpler in case we decided not to sell it.

When we returned to Milwaukee, one of the chores on my list was to stop at our long time locksmith — a company I have been using for 40 years — to get excess keys made.  I did this because I realized that the key cutters at the home and garden stores or the discount stores aren’t all that accurate, nor are the aluminum key blanks that they often like to use as durable as the iron and nickel key blanks.  So, we returned to Los Fresnos locked and loaded and ready to rekey.

Just two days ago I paused at the door to think about whether it was smart waiting any longer to get the locks rekeyed.  I dismissed the thought and went on my merry way.  Silly boy…

Actually, part of the delay was because our neighbor had been a locksmith and he wasn’t sure whether he had the bits and bobs necessary in his shed to rekey the locks for us.  Turns out his tools are up north in their home up there and I was waiting on an answer unnecessarily — but that was no big deal.

So there I am with no keys, no cell phone, wondering how I’m going to get into the house.

It was early afternoon and the park manager was out to lunch and was doing some personal errands so we knew she would be back, but not for a while.  I didn’t think there was a spare key in the office but didn’t know for sure.  So, what to do?

I scoured the library and the part of the office that was accessible for a phone book.  I found one.  But… wouldn’t you know it… it was an older book and the Yellow Pages portion of the book ended at “Dentist” — so no listings for locksmiths.

I had already researched the local lock shops for my ultimate call but I’ll be doggone if I could remember what I recalled as a rather odd company name for the one out of several choices that I had chosen to call come April 1.  I tried leafing through the alphabetical listing in the hope of finding the company listing — but you know how many personal phone numbers there are and I was having no luck at all even though I knew that the company name started with “A” — the phone book, you see is for the entire Rio Grande Valley and is subdivided by city…. sigh.  too many names.

I tried knocking on a couple neighbors’ doors to find a complete phone book but everyone was out.  Finally I connected with the host who let me use his smart phone which got me a phone number for a locksmith — but not the one I wanted.  Phone call made it was clear this company was fly-by-night…. they could come out to let me into the house but they weren’t sure if they “had the parts” to rekey the locks… Yeah, sure…. that’s just the company I want to use.  Turns out that the call back they promised in 10 minutes never came and I found the camp host and we looked further through the Google response until I found the company I had remembered:  Addax Locksmith.  You try to remember that name with no mnemonic!  We made a second call, this guy was good to go, could do the entire job, and I was happy.  He called back a few minutes later to say he’d be 45 minutes and was that ok (great communication skills) and we agreed.

I went back to sitting under the carport to enjoy the afternoon and take the razzing I had coming from my neighbors — all of which was in good fun… A few minutes later the host showed up with a key!  What?  Turns out that the office did have a spare key but no one realized it — so I was quickly inside the house and happy.  But the locksmith was still coming because I still wanted the locks rekeyed so that any other ’spare’ keys floating around would not work the locks.

Jesse — the owner of Addax Locksmith — turned up on time.  Actually, he was apologetic that it took him 45 minutes to get here. And once again I was amazed that when I hear so many stories about bad experiences with repairs or emergencies that so often our own experiences have been positive. Jesse turns out to be a former policeman who got tired of shiftwork and opened his own company.  He’s polite; he’s informed; he’s quick; he works clean;  he’s everything I would have wanted in a contractor if I’d been at my leisure to research him even more carefully.

The job was done in less than an hour, he made a couple adjustments to the way the locks were meeting up with the strike plate in the door frame and most of all he installed the locks correctly.  This was something I could have done myself — and if you need to do it, I encourage you to try.  Standard home locks (and this I learned from my “former life” of the early 1970’s) operate using little metal pins inside tiny channels pushed into place by even tinier springs.  Each chamber has at least two tiny pins, sometimes more and when the gap between pins lines up with the top of the barrel the barrel can turn and the lock either unlocks or locks.

Too often I see locks installed as ours had been installed by the previous owner — so that the key went into the lock with the groves facing DOWN instead of UP.  The problem with this is that over time the springs inside can lose some of their tension and not push as tightly against the pins, or dirt can get inside and inhibit the free rise and fall of the pins so that when the key goes into the slot one or more of those sliding pins is stuck in the locked position — it never makes contact with the key because the weight of the pin and the power of gravity are heavier than the force of the spring — thus, you have the right key but you are still locked out of your house.

The correction is simple.  The lock comes apart — not the cylinder, just the knob and the trim piece, the key cylinder gets turned right side up, the lock goes back together and Voila!  You’re done. If you can’t make the change yourself, paying to have it done for you isn’t the worse thing in the world and you’re a lot safer.  At this stage of life the idea of having a paramedic outside unable to get in is not a pleasant thought. Hopefully I’ll never have to experience that, but I see EMT’s around the park often enough to know that it’s a real problem.  In fact there was to have been a memorial service for one of the residents whom we did not know just last evening.  He’d been in failing health and passed away a day or two previous.

So, there you have our excitement for a beautiful monday. Thanks for stopping and I’ll be here again tomorrow.  Why not stop and say hi.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Does the CRV have a keyless pad on the door, Peter? You could always hide a house key inside it. If not, we used to have a keyless lockbox that mounted on the jamb between the screen door and the entry door of our stix-n-bricks. I think we bought it from Home Depot. Cheap insurance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jim — I was looking at those lock boxes just the other day (this happened,now, 1 week ago). I have found a good hidey-hole for a key and secreted one away already. Just in case the office is locked. I also gave one to the office manager and that is kept under lock and key — just in case something happened to us and Katy needed access to the house.

      Security is such a silly thing. Friends of ours never even had keys to their house in rural Indiana. But we had a break in when we were living in Milwaukee and we actually arrived back home while a thief was still in the house — talk about bad timing. So, after that experience we are a bit more cautious.

      No the CR-V does not have a keyless pad. Not sure Honda offers that on ANY car now. I had an old Ford that did and I loved that. Not sure who’s still making cars with key pads. The new thing being the Smart Key, not sure if the keypad is on the way out. And those electronic keys (even the 2004 Honda ones) are EXPENSIVE. We had one spare cut when we went full time and I almost choked on the bill.

      We do have that shed alongside, I could put a lockbox on that door so it’s not quite as obvious. I think I’m content with what we have done since, but some ideas just float around in there and come back to life at various different times in life…. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I liked it on the Taurus Wagon we had it on.

        It was such an odd incident the way it happened, and I almost knew what was happening as I was pulling the door closed. Still, it got handled and we got the locks rekeyed as we had planned so no big deal.

        Liked by 1 person

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