It’s Sunday night and I’m settling in after a long day. I’ve just put on my pajamas and am making some butternut squash soup. Already I’d changed light bulbs, cleaned, did a walk through, scheduled appointments for repairs, did a lease signing with a new tenant, and vacuumed. I’ve attempted to thwart an electrical problem in one apartment to no avail.
So, of course, it would follow that the moment my bra comes off my phone would ring. It’s one of my tenants sounding rather desperate because he’s locked out of his apartment. As in, his doorknob will not turn.
I hang up the phone, turn down the soup, throw on presentable clothing and make my way with screwdriver in hand wondering how in the hell I am going to be able to fix this one. I act on gut instinct, not training. I use logic and sometimes, trusty MacGyver-like skills involving paper clips, gum and duct tape. I learned the duct tape thing from my Dad, actually. He’d duct tape anything that was broken.
He and his friend are standing there forlornly when I reach his floor. Upon inspection it seems the turning mechanism on the old knob is definitely stuck. I unscrew the panel thinking maybe we can lift the thing off and thus remedy the problem until a locksmith can come out the next day. But the panel was stuck on with the old lock that didn’t even have a key. Some of the apartment doors have original door knobs that contain the original lock in the same panel but with a new deadbolt lock installed right above. What happens is that over time the interior turning mechanism gets jammed meaning you can unlock the deadbolt but you can’t get the handle to turn and open the door.
Can you tell I don’t really know that much about locksmithing?
We decided we were desperate enough to get a hammer and wail at it hoping to knock it free. I let the tenant have first dibs to get his frustration out. On his second hit the door opened without even busting the knob off. Hallelujah! Now we’re in the apartment but uh oops, the knob still won’t turn even from the inside. I tried not to panic and joked, “Well if we’re stuck in here, I hope you have food cuz I haven’t had any dinner.” We managed to remove the panel from the inside and he grabbed some trusty duct tape to seal down the offending mechanism. He instructed us to always tape vertically, not horizontally. Know why? Because of Watergate.
That’s what he said. No foolin’.