Sunday, January 4, 2009

In Which We Get Locked Out, Are Doofuses

We were up at the mountain house from New Year's Day to tonight, just the four of us. It was a good, quiet getaway, even though the weather was chilly and gray. Friday, after we ate supper, we decided to go out for a nighttime walk. Matt had gotten the kids some LED flashlights to play with, and we bundled up and set out in the dark. It's all just dirt roads around the house, and there aren't many people up there. We had a glowstick we were throwing around, and the flashlights made spooky effects in the fog. It was fun. We walked up to the old tractor and ran up and down hills until Hank was tired and ready to go home. Laura was the first one back to the house. When she called out that the front door was locked, I felt a sinking sensation. I just knew that all of the FOUR other doors would be locked too. And they were.

So, on the outside of the house: the four of us, the dog, and our unlocked van. Inside the house: our keys and our phones. It was 35 degrees. We were all wearing good jackets, with a couple of hats and pairs of gloves between us--and we were warm from walking so the temperature didn't seem like an immediate problem. Matt and I walked around the house. It is not the kind of house where you can wiggle a window up--this place is new and tight as a drum. Some of the doors were deadbolted, some were only locked at the doorhandle, some were locked both ways. We had left all the lights on, and there was an open bag of tortilla chips sitting on the table. I thought, "Dang, those are going stale."

The problem is that there are just no close neighbors to go to. What houses there are are vacation places, most of them, and I don't know the whole mountain well enough to know who is a year-round resident. I thought I had heard sounds coming from down the hill earlier in the day, so I left Matt and the kids trying the windows, and I started off down the road with the dog trotting along. (Later I heard Laura telling this story, she said, "Mom ran into the forest for help." I love that, like it's a fairy tale.) The two closest houses were dark, but then I rounded a corner and saw a house all lit up. This is a place we've often walked by, and I had never, ever seen anyone there. I knocked on the door, and these people let me in. They were there as renters for the week--it was grandparents, parents, and little kids--and they let me use their phone while the kids fed pieces of steak to the dog. I got Dad on the phone in Pensacola. I thought maybe he could get his builder, a local guy who has a key, to come let us in, but he couldn't reach him. When I told him we were locked out, one of the first things out of his mouth was, "It would be very expensive to break a window." Silly Dad! We weren't going to break a window--I wanted to break the pane of glass on the door by the hot tub. Break a window--what an idea! Ho ho. I admit that I am so clueless that I hadn't even thought of a locksmith. Good thing I called, right?

So I used the yellow pages and called Jackie's Locksmithing, and Jackie picked up the phone. Another lucky stroke. I gave Jackie very detailed directions to the house, and my new best friends gave me a ride back up the hill. Matt and the kids were hanging out in the minivan. Half an hour later Jackie arrived with her husband, also named Jackie. They looked alike, too. They got to work with their little picks, each on a different door. And damned if I didn't think they weren't going to be able to get in. It took a long time. Not like in the movies. At one point Mrs. Jackie broke her pick off in the deadbolt and had to use a super-big magnet to get it out. It was starting to feel colder. And they worked and worked. I was back to considering what other options we had besides getting into the house, but I figured that having taken on the job, the Jackies wouldn't give up easily. Finally Mrs. Jackie got the deadbolt to turn slightly, and used Mr. Jackie's pocket knife to open it the rest of the way. Whew!

All that time the Jackies were working, I thought, "Hmm, the meter is surely running on this--I wonder what this will cost?" Not that it wouldn't be worth it, of course. So after we were in I asked Mrs. Jackie if she took plastic (she did), and she said, "If you don't mind, that will be fifty dollars." Fifty dollars! I thought it would be two hundred at least. I was looking around for a bottle of booze to give them. Anything. Later I told Matt that if emergency locksmithing is that cheap, then I'm just not going to even carry keys anymore. He didn't really think that was funny.

So it could have been way worse. We could have gotten locked out without warm clothes on. Or the house down the hill could have been empty. Or the Jackies could have been unavailable or unwilling. Or, horrors, we could have been locked out while we were hot tubbing. (Then we would have broken a window for sure.) And this isn't the first post I had planned to write after a week away from blogging. (Hey internets! I missed you so much and I hate it when we're apart! Let's never do that again!) Tomorrow I'll update about my trip to San Francisco. But I am still slapping my forehead and saying "Doh!" every time I think of us standing outside with our noses pressed to the glass. Have you ever done something like that? I mean, I have never even locked my keys in my car, and here we were standing in the cold, dark wilderness with little kids outside and open Tostitos inside. Think of the Tostitos!

So that's what we've been up to. I hope you guys had a lovely New Year's week!

17 comments:

Camp Papa said...

By this time next week, all of the trees will be festooned with extra keys to the house. Think of Dale Evans singing, "I've got keys that jingle, jangle, jingle."

Amy said...

Fifty bucks is a bargain and a half! I hope you tipped them--you tip the postman, after all! :)

Welcome back, the internet has been a cold place without you.

Erika said...

I've locked myself out several times, but we've always had old houses that were easy to break into, which is a relief at the time but then you think, "Huh? That can't be good." Now we have a hide-a-key. The problem with that is if you use the hidden key and then don't put it back immediately and forget about it and then lock yourself out. Done that too. My specialty, though, is locking keys in my car. I've locked them in the trunk a few times--easy to do when you are getting something out of the trunk that requires two hands and you set the keys down in the trunk and then close the trunk with your elbow. I've also put a club on my steering wheel, when I didn't have the key to unlock it. Most of these cases are from college. All I can say is god bless AAA. I wonder if they do houses?

Michele said...

I haven't done this recently but my mom does it on a fairly consistent basis.

Coffee with Cathy said...

That is such a weird feeling to be stuck outside your house while all your essentials -- computer, phone, purse and, uh, keys -- are inside. And the solution to forgetting to replace the hide-a-key? Two hide-a-keys! Can you tell that I'm an expert at getting locked out??? Hope the rest of your vacation was fun and uneventful in a good way.

Cassie said...

Wow, scary. I'm glad no windows had to be broken. (And I would have had the same thought about the chips getting stale!)

Last winter I got locked out of the house with both kids at nap time in sub-zero weather. Thankfully I had a car key, so we drove to hub's work a few miles away to get his key. On his way down in the elevator he dropped his key into a crack which sent it down the elevator shaft. We had to find a maintenance guy to go get it. Oh and also I locked one of my kids in the car once. Thankfully I had my cell phone and Phil was just dow the road with my spare keys. Bad, bad mommy.

Welcome back and I can't wait to hear about San Fran!

Kelly said...

I have missed you!! I was wondering to myself last night when you'd be back to your posting and glad I didn't have to wait much longer. Curious to know about SF...looking forward to the story xoxo

Casey said...

That sounds like the scene out of a scary movie. Good thing nobody popped out of the woods with a chainsaw and started chasing you.

Glad the neighbors were able to come to the rescue and the Jackies could pick the lock. I've never been locked out (yet) but it's gotta be a scary feeling, especially in the cold with kids.

Michele said...

Hello Woman of the Forest,
I am impressed that you knew your dad's phone number. Since numbers are in my cell phone I never seem to have them in my memory anymore.

For your children's memories, I love that you (female) went into the forest to get help and that Jackie (female locksmith) was the one to score on her door!
--Michele in Atlanta

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Oh dear. But all's well that ends well. Thank God for the Jackies. When I was in college I got locked out of some dive motel room in Charlottesville VA, me and a bunch of girls. At 2:00 AM with no management on site. Had to break down the door. Not cheap. Never again.

Scott said...

I thought there was an emergency key outside the house? At least, I recall one being there on my visit...

Keely said...

Yup, I've done that (although not recently). I totally recognize that sinking feeling as you just KNOW that everything else is locked up tight, too.

Becky said...

Scott, that was the REALLY dumb part: we had used the lockbox key to get in when we arrived--because I left my keyring in Atlanta, mistake number one--and then we didn't put it right back into the lockbox, as Erika describes. So we were totally forked.

And Atlanta Michele, it WAS a "Girl Power" kind of night! Matt and I didn't discuss it exactly, but my thought was that strangers might be more willing to open their door in the night to me than to Matt. Also, there's the whole "Women are more willing to ask for help" thing--I think that was a factor!

The Stiletto Mom said...

You are a better, more patient person than I am...I totally would have broken the window! I hate that feeling of being locked out, it's just the worst...glad you got in okay and glad you are back!

A Day That Is Dessert said...

Happy New Year Becky!!

Sara said...

That *is* weird: getting locked out must be catching! Your adventure definitely trumps mine. I got that sinking feeling just reading your post.
I hope the Tostitos were alright. Heavens!
Happy New Year!

Better Than Machines said...

Wow. Imagine having to get out of that hot tub and climb through a broken window.