It started as a quiet night at home. I’m giving away some plants and I was marking what to get rid of, what to move, etc. I have a color-coded system with ribbons and plant markers (not that I’m anal or anything).

Then at about 6:30 my sister called, saying she’d locked herself out of her apartment. No big deal I thought. I’ll just run her extra key over and it’ll take 20 minutes tops. Told her to give me a few to get the excess mud off and I’d be right there.

Then she called back and asked (already knowing the answer) if I also had the key to her top lock. “You mean the lock you told us to never ever touch under threat of death and that I’ve never even played with while you were out of town because I knew I’d get locked in and die or I’d be locked out and your cats would die while you were gone and it’d be my fault? You mean THAT key?!?!?”

“Uh, yeah. That’d be the one,” she said somewhat sheepishly. “I use that lock when I’m at home, and it was locked when I went out the back door to play with my bike seat in the basement.” The back door which, incidentally has at least 2 other keys…

<So for those who are lost, the upshot is that neither of us has all the keys necessary to get into her apt.>

I asked if maybe our parents or one of the other sibs might have the “no no” key, since we all have keys to each others’ places. Being desperate (yet already knowing the answer) she called around, but of course nobody had it. She’d given all of us only one key along with the “thou shalt not touch the other lock” speech.

So after telling her I could barely get my 6′ ladder into my car and that mom & dad’s 12′ ladder would never fit, she reluctantly (“Well, could you just try?! I know I can reach the window <2nd floor> with a ladder.” “NO”) agreed to have me find a locksmith.

I looked in the phone book and I swear that including the full-page ads, there are SEVEN pages of locksmiths beginning with the letter “A” (AA-Key to A-Plus). Presumably that’s done with the expectation that you’re a completely frantic moron who will (pardon the pun) pick the first ad you see because you’re so desperate.

Seriously, though, there are 11 total pages of locksmiths. I have a hard time believing there’s that much demand. I’m sorry but this town is not that big.

Anyway, having no clue which one to pick I called my mom, who’s a realtor and knows everyone. I called the company (which begins with an S by the way), and went over to bide the time with my sister. We sat on her neighbor’s front stoop since she doesn’t have one. Before long, we met her neighbor, who told us about a guy in my sister’s building.

Helpful illustration:

Turns out that Bldg. 2 guy has a bit of a “peeping problem” and blatantly looks through his windows at guy in Bldg. A, going as far as putting his hands around his eyes to block out the extra light and (presumably) get a better view.

Ironically, Grace had told me (before we talked to the peep-ee) that the peep-ER was a “character” who sometimes asked if she wanted to look at the <insert name of star thing here> through his scope. Thank god this was all outside.

Plus, she had also told me (again, before we talked to the peep-ee) that she found out there was a registered se* offender down the street. She told this to the newly-met neighbor after he shared his peeping story, and we all suddenly realized that this little supposed bastion of “stability” and “security” that is visually appealing and well-kept and a generally “desired” neighborhood, was starting to look like land of the freaks.

Now they’re both disillusioned better informed all because of an accidental meeting on the street. Lesson: There are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason.

The locksmith arrived. Using the one “approved” key Grace unlocked that lock, and then the master locksmith who drove ~30 minutes to get here unlocks her door literally in less than 10 seconds by inserting a screwdriver and turning it. In a way, that was more alarming than the peeper and the listed offender combined. Thank god she has two locks!

The locksmith was nice enough to admit he might as well make it worth the $85 he was charging her, and offered to see if he could <insert technical locksmith term here> to make it fixed less easy to open with a screwdriver until she gets a new lock. He could’ve easily (but not without a smarta** comment or ten from me first) just picked unlocked her door and billed her and run but he had scruples, which I always appreciate.

So we bided our time by playing “all you ever wanted to know about the locksmith business but were afraid to ask.” Like, how could he tell if he was unlocking for the owner or (say) a disgruntled ex? Apparently he has a “sense” about these things, and can just tell via someone’s inflection, what they say, how quickly they speak, etc. if there’s something hinky going on.

He claims he’s always been right, and I believe it. It makes sense when you think of how much you have to notice and see when you look at the inside of a lock. You have to be perceptive. Plus if you’re going somewhere in the middle of the night your defenses are all up too, so I believe he has “special powers.”

Course he’s also opened the door and found dead people, so it’s not all freaks and drunks fun and games. He was quite entertaining and you probably have never spent much time thinking about locksmithing, have you? Well, neither had I.

Anyhoo, I left there at about 10, but I wasn’t worried about being locked out of my house. No, besides having my key with me, I come in through the garage anyway, have a hidden key, a neighbor with a key, 3 sibs and 2 parents all with their own keys, and the same lock for all my doors.

Unfortunately, all these preventative measures do not matter if you depart the house and leave the back door wide open, as I had…