Posted in Commentary, Growing up/old, Lessons Learned, My children

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”—Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

It was Friday night, a couple of weeks ago, and as usual I was home alone with the dogs while Scott was gaming. I had modest plans for the evening. All I needed to do was make a clay angel as a birthday present for a friend, because it needed to go out in Saturday’s mail in order to make it to her across the country in time. I had my dinner, and was all set to get my supplies out and start working when it occurred to me that the dogs, who had been penned with their dinner, should go out before I settled in too much and had hands full of clay.

It is our habit to shut the door from the house into the studio when we take the dogs out, because, given the chance, they like to make an end-run around us, straight through the dog door, and back into the house where they will later poop on the living room carpet. We do not enjoy it when this happens. And so like a million other times, I pulled the door behind me, let the dogs out of their pen, and opened the back door to the outside. I left it open because our gecko buddy was hanging around, and I didn’t want him to accidentally get squooshed if I shut it, like a few previous gecko buddies. It makes Scott very sad to have to clean them up, so we are always on alert when we open that door at night. Constant vigilance is the cost of having gecko buddies.

The dogs did their thing, and I was ready to do mine, so we went back into the house, I put my hand on the door knob and attempted to turn it, but it wasn’t having it. Somehow, it was now locked. Given that the door had been open in the first place, and had to have been unlocked for it to have been opened, I don’t know how it got locked. But no matter—I’d just go through the patio door to our bedroom and come around.

But no one had gone out the patio door after work, and so it was as locked as it’d been since I left that morning. Well, now, this was bad news. Very bad.

I knew the front, side, and garage doors were also locked. I realized that my next move would have to be to climb up on the couch out in the studio and go through the kitchen window over the sink. I did not relish the thought; a camel passing through the eye of a needle would be far more graceful, not to mention more likely to avoid injury, than a Kristie through the sink window, and yet what choice did I have?

I didn’t even have that choice, as it turned out, because that window had been, inexplicably, latched (probably by the same evil spirit who’d locked an open door), and it wasn’t budging. So I was not getting through any available doors or windows without the shattering of glass at this point. However, I didn’t really want to break any glass and deal with the clean-up or the expense of replacement; I have three children who put 4 bare feet apiece on the floor, not to mention Scott and me.

Naturally, my phone was inside the locked house. As I stood there, pondering my next move, I spied Scott’s laptop on a table. Hallelujah! I would fire ‘er up, send him an e-mail at gaming, which he’d get on his phone, and he would come rescue me.
Dead laptop.

And it all went perfectly until after I pressed the “ON” button. Because this was not, in fact, Scott’s laptop. It was my old one. The one with the defunct hard drive that he’d been fiddling with to see if he could salvage the computer somehow. I wasn’t e-mailing anybody.

At this point, I realized I would probably have to go talk to one of my neighbors and ask to use their phone. Even disregarding my current ensemble, which was a hybrid of work clothes and comfy gym shorts, plus black clogs with ankle socks (at least I had a bra on), the choice was not an easy one. Did I choose the neighbors that hate our barking dogs, and us by association; the codger who hounded us by registered mail (from NEXT DOOR) about trimming our trees, only to have his trees drop huge branches into our yard for the last 2 years; or the overly friendly guy? We tend to keep to ourselves, and are not really in a position to be asking neighbors for favors, though it was a minor emergency and I would do it.

If I had to.

But I am resourceful, and decided that I had one option remaining to me before I had to bring in outside help. So it was that I determined I’d just take the damn door off at the hinges. It’s a simple enough operation, if you have the tools.

And while the studio is Scott’s workroom, he works on miniatures in there, and the “tools” he uses on them are really not adequate to the task of taking a door off the hinges.
No useful tools whatsoever.

I searched high and low, and found a small screwdriver that, given how I was about to use it, I had a real good chance of bending it all out of shape and ruining it permanently. The fact that I believed that that screwdriver was Scott’s grandfather’s made me loath to risk it, but desperate times often require risking potentially precious family heirlooms.

However, once I had a screwdriver, a boon I had not expected, I thought that maybe I could just take out the door knob entirely and the door would swing open. That’d be easier than taking everything apart. So I unscrewed the screws, pulled the knob off, and pushed the other half of the knob assembly through into the living room. But the locking mechanism was still in place, and despite putting the screw driver into the slot that is supposed to be the emergency release, nothing happened. Putting it in various other likely-but-ultimately-fruitless spots also did not get it to release. It was stubborn. So it was back to plan A: The door had to come off, and the screwdriver would have to risk being sacrificed.

I put it up into the bottom of the hinge to push against the bolt. No joy. I tried it again. Still no luck. I tried the other 2 bolts, and they were equally stuck. I cried. I swore. That didn’t help either, but it amused the dogs, who were in and out of the studio as I worked on saving myself from a wasted Friday night out in the studio and back yard; it would be 4 hours—minimum—before Scott would be home. I sat on the couch and whimpered. I was already tired, hot, and sweaty, and I had an angel to make. And I’d been out there 25 minutes by that point.

I took a deep breath and tried it again, with various ill-suited tools, and finally got one of the bolts to budge. Once I had one, I had a stronger and perfectly fitted tool to get the other ones out, though they still stuck. I used the door knob as a really crappy makeshift hammer, but it didn’t work. But then I found a pair of heavy wire cutters with enough weight to make a decent hammer, and after that I was golden.
The tools of my salvation.

I got all 3 bolts out, set them aside, and proceeded to get the best grip I could on the door and pull it loose. However, the fact that it was the tail-end of monsoon, and the swamp cooler was on, meant that the door was swollen and there was no play at all in the doorjamb. I was now even sweatier, and covered with thick black grease from whatever they greased the hinges with 20 years ago. And I had no choice but to figure out how to conquer or destroy the locking mechanism that was standing between me and my freedom.

I considered cutting it with a tin-snips. I considered ramming it through until it broke. But I decided to fiddle a little bit more with the screwdriver. By random chance (enhanced with a smidgeon of desperation), I touched something that made the lock let loose, allowing me to turn what was left of it enough to get the door free. Success!
Door off the hinges!

I fetched my door knob from the living room where it’d landed, got myself a beverage, and set about putting everything back together again. I’d been outside 45 minutes.
The doorknob I pushed through.

Before I did anything else, though, I went and unlocked the patio door, just in case I’d done something untoward to the knob with all my tinkering and tragedy befell me a second time. In another 10 minutes or so, I had everything back together, including cleaning up the black streaks I’d put on the door. And before the week was out, I’d gone to Ace to get 2 spare keys made.
Grease from the door bolts all over the door.

Fast-forward to Tuesday night of this week. We’re leaving the house to go get dinner, and I go to lock the back door leading from the studio to the outside. I do this by turning the key in the deadbolt lock that we leave in the door for that very purpose.


The realization hit me like a big, fat, chagrin-inducing two-by-four as soon as my fingers turned the key, (though why that night and not the two dozen times I locked that same door in between, I’ve no idea). But the very instrument of my salvation that sweaty, frustrating Friday night was lodged in the lock where it has been every single day for the last 3 years and 10 months. But because the door was open, I never saw it. And because I never saw it, and suffer from CRS (and am, apparently, smoking mass quantities of dope while I sleep, to be killing off so many brain cells), I never even remembered that there was a key in that door. Doh!

I used to be smart. I swear!



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.