“Why is this door always locked? Do you have to insist on locking the screen door as well?” I’d always ask my dad when I would visit. He was a real stickler for home security.
Weapons near every door and large window. A gun near his nightstand. You know, just in case a crazed intruder decides to kick open the door while my father is finishing his 5th glass of Scotch while watching his baseball game. Or Football game. Or hockey game. Or while passed out in his bed.
Every time I would come over for a visit, I’d have to wait for him to unlock a series of deadbolts, handle locks, and of course, the fucking screen door. Of all things in the holy name of home security, the aluminum screen door is just a few ounces more of a deterrent than those wretched “Neighborhood watch – we call the cops!” signs I would see in the windows of old folks’ homes.
It wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. If anything I was mostly bothered by the absurdity of the situation. I would poke fun at him. “Gee dad, I can see the newspapers now: Crime foiled by aluminum screen door, thanks to diligent ex-cop.” He never found those jokes very funny. I mean, he’d smile and take a little bit of his annoyance out on me with an extra-hard hug. Dad’s do these things, I suppose. But I always persisted that it was time to drop the charade. “You don’t live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, dad. Lock the doors when you leave, sure, but there’s no need to be locked up while you’re home. No one’s going to invade your home with you in it. Surely not in the middle of the day on a Sunday when everyone is outside walking around.”
The logic just never set in. He had his ways and I would not be successful in ever persuading him.
Then comes this morning. I’m reminded of the absurdity. The jokes. The fake newspaper headlines.
I have come home from my morning walk, settled in, fed the pets, ate some breakfast, and took a shower. The girlfriend had gotten up to get ready for her day. She walks down to the front room and I hear the click of the deadlock. “Did you just lock the front door” I said. We live in an apartment building that has a buffer of one locked front door to the building and locked back gate. “Yes.” she replied.
She says “I don’t want anyone just walking in.”
“But no one will walk in. Our apartment is locked down.”
She says “The locked door will prevent it anyway.”
I respond sarcastically, yet annoyed “Just because it’s true doesn’t mean that’s not crazy.”
She says “I just like the door locked.”
Fine. I’m an unwilling participant in, what may be the most pedestrian magic trick of all time. Ladies and gentleman, come witness the unbreakable fortress that no one wants to get into at 7AM: my apartment. Thanks to the bravery and diligence of my girlfriend, and my father before her, I will never have to worry about an intruder during my brief periods of visitation occupancy.
Thank goodness for useful idiotic behavior.
“Attention passengers. The risk has of intrusion has now been reduced to near zero. Instead of 15 locked doors a person must get through, now 16 locks have been engaged. You are welcome. You are safe.”
Just like people who suffer from OCD, or people who just have to make sure the oven is turned off, even though they just checked 5 minutes ago, they are making their world, not mine, safer one inconvenience at a time.
“Attention shoppers. There are armed guards outside of the grocery store. A Brazilian armada might attempt to invade the store. In a land-locked state. You’re safe at Corporate-Co Shopping.
We’ve stocked emergency gas masks behind the Customer Service desk just in case our relationship with Canada goes south and they decide to use biochemical warfare on our store. We’ve got your backs.”
Turning a light switch on and off. Meditate. Celebrate. You’ve ensured that the flow of electricity has stopped. You are one with the universe. You are in a warm blanket. Disengage the lock. Engage the lock. A happy reminder that no one can breach your fortress. Click. Clack. Your childhood innocence will surely come back.
“Attention all patients. You must wear this jacket to prevent your own hands from harming yourself.”
You can never be too safe.