Thursday, January 21, 2016

5047 Fun with locks

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"The higher the buildings, the lower the morals."
-- Noel Coward --

Dilbert, Scott Adams, Thursday, January 21, 2016 
This reminded me of an incident when I was working.  We'd just moved into a brand new building, with four floors, and maybe six aisles of offices on each floor.  We froze at first, and then somebody noticed a thermostat on the wall,  An unprotected thermostat.  It didn't show the ambient temperature, but did show the setting.  So, naturally, somebody boosted the setting.  And it got colder.  So someone else boosted it again.  It got even colder.  Repeat, repeat.  We were freezing our tails off, and building maintenance couldn't figure it out.

What we didn't realize (but the maintenance people did, but couldn't put it together) was that the folks on the other side of the building were roasting.  They kept pushing the setting down on their thermostat, and it just got hotter. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Once we found that out, the answer was obvious.  The thermostats were hooked up wrong.  The thermostat on our aisle controlled the temperature "somewhere else" (I don't think they ever figured out where) and so on. Instead of rewiring them so each thermostat matched its zone, maintenance just set them all to the same setting, and then put locked boxes over them, so we all alternately froze and roasted together as the sun rose and set.

That was the same building with the locked doors.  We all had confidential stuff in our offices, so the rule was that your office door had to be locked whenever you left your office.  So the office doors were like hotel doors - if it closed, it locked.  This led to two problems:  people were constantly locking themselves out, and some worried that if they closed their door while in their offices, nobody could get to them if there was a medical emergency or something.  If you knock on a closed door, are they out, or are they dead?

It took me about five seconds to figure the latches out.  They were the type that could be popped open with a credit card.   Unbelievable, but true. The word quickly got around that if you were locked out, Silk could get you back in.

I was in great demand those first few weeks, but I never told or showed anyone else how to do it.  Finally, my manager locked himself out, and someone told him to get me, I was faster than maintenance.  I told him to go away for a few minutes, and I popped his door.  I guess he figured it out, because within a week all 250+ doors in the building had new latches - the kind that couldn't be popped.  Plus, they no longer locked automatically, and you couldn't lock them from the inside.  You had to lock them with a key from outside.  So that protected the confidential stuff, kept people from locking themselves out, and ensured that no one would be unconscious on the floor in a locked office (outside of a Sherlock Holmes scenario, anyway).

More recently, at the country house, on one trip up I had forgotten the keys, couldn't get into the house, and had to turn around and drive all the way back without accomplishing anything.  So after that, I left the back door to the garage unlocked, because the door from the garage to the laundry room could be popped if I hadn't locked the deadbolt.  That way, if I ever drove up and had forgotten the keys, I could still get in.  (No, I prefer not to leave a key with anyone or outside somewhere.  I've had bad experiences with that.)

Then one day shortly after that, the Hairless Hunk sent me an email, that he had checked the doors and found the garage door unlocked, so he locked it.  Sigh.  I thanked him, and now the country house key permanently resides in my purse.

I have taught myself over the years to never lock a door unless I am actually holding the key to that door in my hand, the same hand I use to lock the door.  So getting locked out of the house or car is very rare for me.  It's happened maybe four times in my long life, and usually only because the key in my hand is the wrong key.  Nevertheless, Daughter and I have a key to each other's house, just in case, mostly for taking mail in or caring for beasties.

The one time I locked myself out here, Daughter was out and didn't come home for hours, and naturally, I didn't have my cell, either.  Or clothes.  I was in my robe and barefoot.  When she finally got home, she rolled her eyes and said, "Mother, you have a key to my house, and you could just go in and get the key for your house, you know where it is."  I just let her think about that for a minute.  "Oh.  Ne'mind."

Jay's father had those hotel locks on all his exterior doors.  As he got older and more absentminded, I mentioned to Jay's sister that maybe that wasn't such a good idea.  She got all snippy and informed me that they were MUCH safer than locks you had to actively lock, he ALWAYS has his keys in his pocket, she and her husband have the same kind of locks, and implied that I was an idiot.

Just a few weeks after that conversation, Fred let his little doggy out the back door in the morning, but it had snowed heavily the night before, so he stepped out onto the patio to help the dog through a snow drift, and, 'click'.   He was standing there in pajamas and robe and scuff slippers, in a fenced backyard in Rochester, NY, in knee-deep snow.  Luckily, a neighbor had a spare key, and it was early enough that they were still home.   Fred had to walk through knee deep snow in virtually bare feet, climb the fence, plow through to the road to the neighbor's house.  It was a bad scene for a frail man in his nineties.  The locks were changed shortly thereafter, and the sister never said a word to me about it.

One of the local Meetup groups for singles has regular "lock and key" parties.  I've never been to one, so I'm not sure of the details, but I gather that attendance is restricted so that there equal number of males and females ("uh, no you can't sign up unless we get another male...").  Each attendee gets a lock or a key, and then you have all kinds of fun finding the lock or key that matches your key or lock, and then you're supposed to spend the rest of the evening in conversation with that person.

I have zero interest in participating in anything like that, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall.  I imagine maybe there might be a few who find surprisingly fascinating someone they wouldn't otherwise approach, but mostly I suspect there's a lot of disappointment and frustration.  And a lot of not hiding that disappointment and frustration.

Has anybody ever done that?  How did it go? Would you even consider it?

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