Anyone who has tried to open my front door, realizes that it can be a devilish task. For at least thirty years, this door knob and its lock have been a trial. Their antics are many, and their various problems wax and wane. For weeks at a time, everything works perfectly. Well, never entirely perfectly, but relatively so. I come home, put my key in the lock, turn it, and the door is magically unlocked. Then I turn the door knob, and after carefully looking for animals poised for an escape attempt, I push the door open, and it opens. This is as it should be, but all too frequently, is not how it actually is. Usually, after manipulating the key this way and that, I can get the lock to work, but there are occasions when its little innards just will not drop into place. Other times, the lock works, but the door knob doesn’t. I used often to come home with Rachael, try to open the door, to no avail. I would moan. Rachael would sigh, grab the door knob, turn it, and open the door, meaningfully rolling her eyes at me. I attribute this to the same phenomenon, by which a macho guy struggles with a jar lid, puts the jar down in disgust, and his ninety year old auntie steps up and easily opens the lid. We all know (especially the macho guy) that he really got it started, and then the merest touch was all that was needed. Knowing this does not decrease the humiliation.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, my friend Carolyn had spent the night after choir practice, and was trying to leave in the morning, but the front door would not open. Nor would the back door, which has its own issues, but in general, is usually more cooperative. She patiently waited till I got up. I was feeling a little like Rachael must feel when she is about to show me up with her door opening skills, but such was not to be. We were locked in. I sadly called the locksmith to come let us out. When he got there, he was the one with Rachael’s skills. The door opened right up. I felt foolish, of course. Since he was there, and we couldn’t make that problem happen again, he fixed several other less pressing lock problems, the most onerous one at the time being the back door which had never been a problem until that day. He also gave the front door a new lock, so that it would work easily. Now the only problem was the door knob with its intermittent recalcitrance. I still was anxious every time I came home, or even went out to empty the garbage, fearing that I would not be able to get back in without breaking in – a tedious and stressful process. This was becoming such a worry, that I decided that, with the help of Michelle – somewhat of an expert in household maintenance problems, I would take the whole doorknob mechanism out of the door and we would then try to find a replacement at the salvage place, or take it to the locksmith to see if he could fix it. I had taken out the back door one – no problem. Remove a couple of screws, and Bob’s your uncle. So I removed a couple of screws and took off a face plate. Surprisingly, here was another underneath. I removed that, to find a morass of iron bits, bobs, springs, and levers in there. The door latch mechanism collapsed, the deadbolt dipped, the little buttons quivered with indignation and everything inside the mechanism fell asunder. I could neither get it out, put it back in, or close the door. As you may imagine, I was pretty upset. I called Michelle, and she rushed to my rescue, undid a few more screws and improved the situation a little, but we still could not get the mechanism out or close the door. I called the locksmith, bless him, and with a teary voice, told him my troubles. “Well,” he said, “I can’t be there…….” My heart sank, “For at least an hour and a half.” My heart sang. He was actually sort of excited. Did I mention that my lock is 112 years old? He loves these old locks, he said, and was up for the challenge. And he conquered. A spring thing inside was broken. He took the door innards back to his shop to find the best spring, returned, and had everything shipshape in a flash. Now, every time I open my door, neither the lock nor the door knob groan in protest, and I am grateful to Craig the Locksmith of Bergman's Lock and Key. He came when needed and did a superb job. On top of that, he was friendly, and made my initially terrible day turn into a sunny one, despite the snow.