In Writing

Keyless entry locks are great.  Until they’re not.  Much like so many things in life, I suppose.

One of my first acts of husband-free independence was to install a keyless entry lock on my front door.  BY MYSELF.  WITHOUT ANY HELP.  It took hours and I gave up about 4 times before I finally got it to function, so it was all the sweeter when I heard the whirring of the deadbolt go, “Rrrrrr,” and lock my door without use of a key.

It has been a gift that has kept on giving, too.  By keying in a little code, I can get into my house without digging through pockets or searching under mats.  My kids can come and go as they please, never worrying about lost keys.  I can give someone who needs temporary access to my house – say, a dogwalker – a secondary code which I can then change with a couple of touches to a keypad if necessary, no locksmith required.  Every time I punch my code into the faintly lit, moon-colored buttons, I am happy at my wisdom and my ability to take good care of myself and my family.

But guess when the keyless entry lock failed to give me this ego boost?  This morning, in the rain, when I ran back home before getting on the bus to New York and the keyless entry lock decided its batteries were dead without giving me any prior warning.  Rather than its gentle “Rrrrrr,” all it did when I put in my code was stare blankly at me and, then, about 10 seconds later, light up all the keys a hostile red and keep me from going into the house.  My house.  It was like the robots in I, Robot rebelling.

I am not one to harden my house excessively against intrusion, I’m ashamed to say.  Not usually.  I live in a blessedly safe neighborhood.  But about two weeks ago I got an email blast from my chatty town Police Chief who mentioned that a house on the other side of town had suffered an attempted robbery.  Alone on a Saturday night and a little freaked out by that, I went around locking all windows and blocking possible points of entry.

You get where this is going.  It was kind of impossible to break into my own house this morning.

I went around to the back (in a maxi dress, no less, through the soggy lawn), then dragged a chair over to the library window.  No go.  I considered throwing a rock through it.  Too soon.  Also, would I then drag myself through broken glass to get in?  Would a locksmith be cheaper, or a window guy?  I went to the kitchen door.  Also no go.  The basement door, which has always seemed flimsy to me, turns out to be way sturdier than I thought it was and impossible to break down.  The windows in the kitchen, the living room… all securely locked.  I walked back around to the keyless entry lock, thinking that maybe it had had some time to think about its stubbornness and let me in.  I spoke nicely to it, then begged a little.  It would not budge.

Finally, I did find a window through which to crawl, scraping my forearms and making my dress dirty.  And I got in.  I changed the batteries on the keyless entry lock and it perked right up, once again offering up its friendly, “Rrrrrr,” a little peppier than usual.

Lessons learned: keep a damn key somewhere.  Also, put a reminder in my phone to change the batteries once a year, whether they need it or not.  It will be like celebrating the keyless entry lock’s birthday, with the extra bonus of keeping me from having to crawl through windows.

Now, when I see the lock, I’ll still be proud of my ingenuity at installing it.  But, unlike Icarus, I won’t fly too close to the sun of my cleverness.  It will now also remind me that for every smart decision we make, we sometimes also make a few dumb ones.

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