Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Locked out

Filed under : Life in general
On July 25, 2007
At 3:00 pm
Comments : 21

How much would you pay to get into your apartment? No, really. Oh, me first? Well, I’d pay $230 and I just did the other night. And that was only the half of it. See, I came home to find my lock busted (that was the technical term the locksmith used: “your lock is busted”). I don’t mean someone tried to break in or anything, just that it spontaneously broke down in a fashion that meant the key turned but nothing happened. As a matter of fact, that’s what I kept thinking in my head, “the key is turning! but nothing’s happening! what the fuck!” When they say New York is the “city that never sleeps,” what they mean is, there will always be someone at any hour willing to take advantage of the fact that it is late in order to charge you five times as much as the thing costs in the daytime. And that is in fact how it played out.

I knew there was a locksmith shop down the street and so I went there and called the number in the window. Within 15 minutes two cheerful guys showed up. If you imagine that they were cheerful because I looked like an easy mark, you would be correct. I mean, what could be more desperate than a person at night who just wants to actually get inside their home? These guys were Israeli and I pretended like I didn’t understand them as they talked amongst themselves so that if they discussed how much they could get away with charging me I could act like I wasn’t in on the whole thing. But naturally that idea collapsed once they saw the mezuzah on the door and one of them asked, “are you Jooweesh?” Then I had to say miserably in Hebrew, “yes, yes, I can understand you.” So I switched my strategy to try to get friendly and I bantered back and forth with them about where they were from (Tel Aviv) and where I’d been in Israel (lots of places) and where I got my mezuzah (my sister made it) and why my lock was busted (cheap). But of course none of this saved me and the fee turned out to be $65 for service and $165 for emergency entry.

“What’s that second one?” I asked.
“That’s to get you into your apartment.”
“I thought that was the service”
“No, that’s just to come here.”
“Yofi.” *

They weren’t even all that bright. One of them said, “let me ask you something. You’re smart and Jewish and nice [at this point I thought he was about to ask me out, seriously], why don’t you leave a key with a friend?”
“I do. I had my key. My lock is busted, remember?”
“Oh right.”

Then the hard-sell of expensive new locks came. When the figure of another $225 was mentioned, I think I just lost it. “No thanks,” I said. They were baffled. “You’re just going to have no lock?” But, you see, I have two locks, and the second one is better than the first. The busted one. As a matter of fact, I once had my nieces from the suburbs come over and they said, “why do you have two locks?” I didn’t even know how to answer that. It’s kind of like asking why we breathe air or why the sun shines. Plus it would have been hard to explain without making them fear someone was coming to kill us.

And so I shooed them away despite their ominous warning that another locksmith would charge me the $65 “just to show up” charge all over again whereas they and their expensive replacement locks were already here! But no, shalom, l’hitraot **… not. Then I taped over the hole in my door and left a message at my office that I’d be late the next day. It was kind of freaky sleeping with a hole in my door, no matter how impossible it would be for anyone to look in or get in or whatever. The next day I called around and guess what? A new lock was $225. Everywhere. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck. What wasn’t universal was the $230 emergency visit cost, but it was too late to get out of that without canceling my check and, y’know, these guys kind of know where I live.

To make a long story short, Donovan the Jamaican guy came the next day (I got about ten minutes of work done before I had to turn around and go home to await him – but hey, the subway is a lot less crowded in the middle of the day!) and did a fab job. And he didn’t even charge me the $65 “pay me, I showed up” charge, just the $225 lock cost. And unlike the emergency guys, he didn’t try to push a lock even better than that one on me. When he offered and I turned him down, he just said, “it’s OK, your deadbolt is good enough anyway.” Go Donovan! His verdict on the busted lock, “well, naturally… see this? Made in China.” Oh right, no Chinese toothpaste or locks, check. “You know where this new one I’m giving you is from? Israel.” Oh, the irony. But at least they do know a thing or two about security.

So, final damage with tax? $471. And all I have to show for it is… exactly the same thing I had before. But at least I can see it from inside my apartment.

*beautiful, great
**see you later

Crowded House – Locked Out (Live)


21 Comments for this post

  1. Alex says:

    “Let me ask you something. You’re smart and Jewish and nice [at this point I thought he was about to ask me out, seriously], why don’t you leave a key with a friend?”

    Indeed, “Always leave a key with a friend” was the very last lesson they taught me before conversion. But now, Becca, you’ve gone and told the whole world! If we Jews lose our competitive advantage in getting into our own homes, why will anybody want to be Jewish any more?

  2. Average Jane says:

    In the interest of true oneupwomanship, I locked myself out of someone else’s house once, and had to pay to get myself broken back in.

    Lesson learned (as I believe there should always be): Locksmiths don’t ask for ID before breaking you into your house.

  3. Becca says:

    Come now, Alex, he was listing all my positive attributes, you know, smart, nice, Jewish… hey he left out funny! I know what this means; I’m clearly just not funny in Hebrew. ~sob~

    Jane, they didn’t ask me, it’s true, however, they could plainly see that my key fit in the door which I guess was enough. What worried me more was that two strangers with a power drill were hacking at my door in an ear-splitting fashion and not one of my neighbors so much as opened their door to see what was going on.

  4. KP says:

    I had a key experience last week with my car that I will not detail here because it makes me look like an idiot.

    Suffice to say, Mr. KP ended up laughing about it while I almost cried.

    Glad you got back in.

  5. sarpon says:

    The same thing happened to me! Well, almost the same thing. Except it was the deadbolt to my office that broke, and it was first thing in the morning and I called the good old boy locksmith who used to be my neighbor and I sat in my car and listened to NPR until he came, and I think the total cost was $150. Other than that, identical.

    Then there was the time I left my office and locked the doorknob lock, only to find I’d left my keys in the refrigerator. Not only was I unable to lock the (new) deadbolt, I couldn’t drive my car. That time, I called Mr. Sarpon, who is not a locksmith but drives a service van loaded with every imaginable tool. He arrived in his passenger van, with nary a tool in sight, and as I whined about his failure to bring the necessary equipment, he proceeded to bust into my office with his pocket knife. So it’s a good thing I have that new deadbolt.

  6. Shtub, sweet shtub. (That’s right, right?)

    Glad your place is safe again. I’m stunned at the cost of locks, though. I replaced all the locks at my house for less than that. Of course, I live in the sticks so the cost of living is much less.

  7. Becca says:

    See, I might have sat in my car but I doubt I’d have listened to NPR. But since I have no car, I had no car radio. I did read my mail, though. BTW, I may already be a winner!

    Shtub, is that like stub but more Yiddish? And yes, I’ve heard sandwiches even cost less than $8 in the sticks. Le sigh.

  8. Alex says:

    Eight bucks for a sandwich? Geez, Becca, I didn’t realize you live in an AIRPORT!

    And, gosh, that KP sure does know how to tell a story! 😉

  9. Becca says:

    You should see my security checkpoint.

  10. kb says:

    and nobody’s questioning why keys were left in the REFRIGERATOR???

    Come now, that’s GOT to be a story. Do tell.

  11. Alex says:

    Becca, I hear your security checkpoint has recently undergone expensive updating, which was carried out by a top Israeli security firm. I’m also told that during the project, there were some concerns about cost overruns, and some of the work was subbed out to Jamaican contractors, but they still used Israeli parts.

  12. NoShowMo says:

    Wait . . . after doing a count, I have no less than 11 friends with keys to my house. Does this mean I’m smart and nice and . . . Jewish?

  13. Becca says:

    kb, you see, I didn’t even think twice about that because it happened to a friend of mine. You walk in, you look at the mail, you go to the kitchen to get a nosh, open the fridge, see cheese, can’t quite reach it, drop keys to have better access, and voila. Your keys are in the fridge. This never happens to me simply because I have a mirror with hooks to hold keys on it right by the door. Because otherwise it totally would happen to me.

    Alex, that’s a good analysis of the situation. I’d give you final confirmation but then Mossad would have to kill me.

    Nosh, it’s the other way round, I think. Anyone nice, Jewish, and smart is going to have a key back-up plan but not everyone who does is necessarily those three things. So says the scammy, not-all-that-bright locksmith, so I’d take that with authority, naturally.

  14. sarpon says:

    Unlike Becca’s friend, I put my keys in the fridge on purpose. In order to eat lunch at my desk as is my wont, I have to buy groceries, and sometimes I’ll pick up something for home when I stock my refrigerator at work. After leaving the home food in the office fridge too many times, I started putting my keys in the fridge when I have something to take home. So when I can’t find my keys, I remember I put them in the fridge, and I remember to take the food home.

    It works great, except when I lock myself out of the office before I look for the keys. No plan is idiot proof.

  15. Shtub = Me trying to be all supportive of the keeper of the Magic Jewball who got locked out of her home, sweet home by using a Yiddish term.

  16. Becca says:

    Ima, I don’t know of any such word, unless you mean shtup, and that would have a whole other (hilarious) meaning. But I’m not fluent in Yiddish so if it’s an actual word, someone will have to explain what it means.

  17. According to the English to Yiddish Online dictionary, shtub is home.

    Shtup, sweet shtup would be, well, SWEET!

  18. Celia says:

    Sarpon, that’s a better method than mine. (The keys wouldn’t work reliably for me because I carpool, and frequently wouldn’t need keys to get home.)

    The friend who went shopping with me promised she’d remind me to take the stuff out of the freezer. Which she did–she called and emailed at least twice before SHE left. But since I left half an hour later, I’d already forgotten.

    Luckily, the ominous “EVERYTHING IN THIS REFRIGERATOR IS DISCARDED EVERY FRIDAY” sign was a fake and my Morningstar Farms breakfast links were still there on Monday.

  19. sarpon says:

    celia, stick your whole purse in there, then. Someone is sure to take your wallet, but at least you’ll have your breakfast links.

  20. kb says:

    Sounds like businesses might be smart to start moving their refrigerators next to their main entry doors, rather than hiding them away in those pesky break rooms.

  21. KP says:

    Alex, I’ll tell you that story after a couple of drinks one night.

    Oh who am I kidding? It would only take one drink. I’m old and easy.

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