You always hope that the locks to your house are secure against people trying to break in until you’re the one trying to break in.
If that was already obvious to you, then, chances are, you wouldn’t be the type to lock yourself out of your house anyway, so congratulations on having your life together and stop rubbing it in the rest of our faces.
Sunday, 7:20 PM
It’s dusk as we pull into the garage. Reaching around my distended stomach—courtesy of five too many chicken wings—I scoop up my cat-print tote bag before clambering out of the car.
Mom reaches the door first and twists the knob. Nothing happens. A look of abject horror flits across her features, and she jiggles the doorknob again. We’re locked out.
The cat, on the other side, meows dolefully: “Who will feed me now?”
“WHY WOULD YOU LOCK US OUT OF THE HOUSE?”
I retaliate emphatically: “I DIDN’T LOCK US OUT OF THE HOUSE.”
“THERE ARE ONLY TWO OF US, AND I DIDN’T LOCK US OUT.”
“STOP SCREAMING AT ME!”
“I AM NOT SCREAMING,” Mom screams.
Mom starts scrolling through her contact list. “Hi, you don’t by any chance have a key to my house, do you?” She laughs ruefully. “There was a spare, but Nicole lost hers so I had to—”
I heave a sigh. “How to break in,” I type into Google Search. Upon further thought, I add “to your own house,” so it’s a lot less suspicious but infinitely more stupid. 158 million search results pop up, though, so at least we are not alone.
These YouTube videos seem promising. I click on “How to Get Into Your House with a Credit Card If You’re Locked Out.”
“Do you have a credit card?” I ask Mom, who is currently considering smashing down the door with a hammer.
“They make it look so easy,” I whine after the third video rewind. “Push the card in and it just opens? HOW?”
Mom brandishes a credit card and gestures for me to move aside. “I used to do this in college,” she says by way of explanation that really only gives rise to more questions.
“Is that disposable?” I point to the card. Because, I mean, imagine if all this doesn’t work out. You could be left with a broken doorknob, a broken soul, and a broken credit card with which you can’t even pay the locksmith.
Mom tears off the molding from the door crevice, and I hold it above her head as she wiggles the card against the latch. Most of it goes through, but it’s stuck there. She jerks it back out in exasperation and tries some more phone contacts.
Armed with WikiHow and online tips from professional thieves, I try my hand at the credit card trick but can’t even stick it halfway through.
I give up and search for some bobby pins, instead.
Of course, there are no bobby pins. Bobby pins are never present when you need them. I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of universal law.
“There are 24-hour locksmiths in the area,” I hint.
“Why is this happening to me?” She asks. Anger, the third stage of grief—four more to go. I take that as my cue to leave her alone.
Mom, in a last-ditch effort, shoves the card in from higher up on the door to check if the second lock above it is locked. It’s not.
She saws her way down to the first lock and meets the same resistance. Pulling on the edge of the card so that it starts bending away from the knob, she persists.
Well, at least, you have to admire—
The door SWINGS OPEN, revealing the cat, who jumps to her feet. Paws. Whatever. The three of us stare at each other, and I can’t tell who is the most surprised.
“How did you do that?” My voice is almost a shriek.
“I’m never doing that again,” Mom announces, like I’m asking for future reference. Which I am, of course, but not for illegal purposes. “But it was the angle.”
I am gleefully closing all the “how to break in tutorial” tabs on my phone when the video from before un-pauses. “If you got into your home, don’t be so smug,” the narrator says. “It means you have a crappy lock.”
Some people just have to suck the joy out of everything.