Don’t spare the spare keys

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Technology has given us magnetic keys, key cards, keyless entry remotes, smart keys, and chip keys — also called transponder keys or, in more common vernacular, fobs.

It used to be if you got locked out of your car you’d just run a hanger down through the window and pop up the knob. If you got locked out of your house you’d just slip a library card into your door jamb and you’d be in scot-free.

Now, if you lose your key “fob” you could be out a couple of hundred bucks. If you lock yourself out of your house, you may have to call a locksmith.

When I was a kid I used to walk home about 1 ½ miles after middle school. There were times (I guess I’d forgotten my key) I had to crawl through an unlocked basement window and drop onto the washing machine to get in my house. It wasn’t that big a deal. I think we’d left that window unlocked just in case.

These days whenever I go kayaking I separate my house keys from my car key, because I prefer not to take either on the boat (in case I dump or, God forbid, have to attempt to rescue somebody). A wet key fob is probably a worthless key fob. So I hide the car key in an undisclosed place where it will be safe and dry until I get back to my car.

After kayaking one evening, I forgot to reunite the two key rings. Next morning I took a call while I was on my out of the house, shut the door, started my car and knew I blew it. My house key was locked in the house. I could get to work … but I couldn’t come back home.

After anger, blame and reluctant acceptance each had their way with me, I cut the engine.

It was a lovely, albeit inconvenient, morning as I circled the perimeter of the house exploring my limited options … it soon became ridiculously obvious I would not be gaining entry via door or first floor window. The expense of calling a locksmith was only tempered by my grudging admission I would probably have to call one anyway.

I then checked the four basement windows one by one. Three were locked. By luck or by providence, the last one wasn’t. I tried to remove the screen but it was stuck.

I can only say the next minute provided me with simultaneous thrills of both vandalism and victory.

After many futile attempts to wrest the screen from the window frame using a screwdriver, I ripped the screen open with my bare hands, pleased to know my mechanical dilemma was no match for my brute strength.

The window slid open. I wriggled on my belly feet first into the narrow opening (aware that my neighbors could potentially be witnessing me breaking into my own house) and enjoyed a smooth landing on the basement couch.

Grabbing my house keys upstairs in the mudroom, I drove into work plucking dried grass from my skirt and shins.

That weekend I replaced the screen, and another — a simple, self-taught home repair (via YouTube) from several years ago.

I have no idea why that one window was unlocked. It could have been for years for all I know, but it isn’t anymore. I realized that was my one pass.

I got a spare house key made and hid it in an undisclosed location. I just hope if there’s a next time, I remember where I put it.

Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or

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