locked out, set of house keys
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Locked Out

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A friend who lives in Jerusalem recently posted on Facebook that she was locked out of her apartment. She was sitting on her balcony drinking her morning coffee. Her husband didn’t see her and subsequently, locked the balcony door. Fortunately, he returned to the apartment five minutes later.

I can top that! Back in 2010, my sister and I were sitting shiva for our father. Unfortunately for me, my husband, Ken, was in India for the week. He started a new job two weeks prior. Even though my dad was in hospice, Ken had to go on this trip.

My sister, Margo, was already in Baltimore, staying with me. That’s where we sat shiva for seven days. One is prohibited from sitting shiva on Shabbat (the Sabbath), however. Shabbat day and meals during the shiva period are usually reserved for family. Margo, my youngest son, Eli, and I had dinner together Friday night. Shabbat lunch, however, included my niece, her husband and their two children.

Their youngest child was a toddler at the time. Unbeknownst to us, she was playing with the button that locks the front door. Actually, we have two locks on the front door. The first is a regular lock (what we call the “bottom lock”) that uses a key. The second is a Shabbos lock – it’s keyless and toddler proof, and uses a push-button combination that the homeowner programs.

My niece and her family went home around 2:30-3:00 p.m. Margo decided to read her book on our screened-in porch. Access to the porch is through a sliding door from the den. Since this was a warm August afternoon, she closed the sliding door behind her to keep in the air-conditioning.

Eli went downstairs to take a nap. I, too, read for a while, but became restless and told Margo I was going for a walk. I closed the sliding door, unlocked, leaving her to read and nap on the porch.

Around 4:30-5:00 p.m., Eli woke up and decided to walk back to his apartment, three miles away. When he came upstairs, he noticed that the sliding door was unlocked. How many times had his parents “yelled” at him to always lock the sliding door before leaving the house? Evidently, too many times, because that’s what he did, not seeing his aunt.

Eventually, Margo decided to come inside. Lo and behold, she was locked out. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. She could exit the porch through its outside door. Since she knew the keyless lock combination, she would get back inside the house via the front door.

Uh oh. The keyless lock wasn’t the problem. As she quickly discovered, the “bottom lock”—the one needing a key— was locked. It appeared that our great-niece had turned that knob to the locked position. No one had noticed.

Margo decided to wait on the front porch for me to come back from my walk. I first visited my in-laws and then leisurely walked towards home. Along the way I met a friend or two, and stopped to chat. Finally, at 6 p.m., I was home, only to see Margo sitting outside, very annoyed.

Well… we still had a problem. Since we rarely lock the bottom lock during the day, I went for my walk without the key. Fortunately, a neighbor up the street is a locksmith. The lock is a cheap one. I figured he could easily jimmy it open with a credit card or a screwdriver. However, he refused to help. “After Shabbos,” he exclaimed! So much for Plan A.

Time for Plan B. We went across the street to our neighbors and friends, Betty and Jack. They gladly took us in, and Margo and I finally got to use a bathroom. They gave us dinner and told us to hang with them until after Shabbat. Then, I could call Eli, who had a housekey on his keyring.

Shabbat wasn’t over until late, probably close to 9 p.m. After Havdalah, I called Eli. He said he’d be there “soon.” Little did I know that he was watching a preseason Ravens game—the holy grail. Margo and I waited and waited and WAITED in the dark on my front steps. Finally, Eli showed up with the key. He couldn’t understand our annoyance. Didn’t we understand he had to wait until the quarter was over before coming to the rescue?

The moral of the story – always take your house key with you. You never know when you’ll need it.

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Read more by Eileen Creeger.

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