[Disclaimer: for millennial readers, this story happened before he advent of smartphones.]
It was the first night in the first home I ever owned.
There wasn’t a lot of furniture but I was so proud to be a homeowner. I had a small balcony on the second floor that mostly overlooked the balcony of the townhouse behind mine but there was a square of sky that belonged to me. Since it was early evening, I decided to step outside and get a breath of fresh air, revel in my accomplishment and enjoy the spoils.
I stepped out and took a deep cleansing breath. I heard the door click shut behind me.
And realized I didn’t have my keys.
I had locked the door to protect my house.
I stood in shorts, T-shirt and socks on a second floor balcony. No way to get back in easily. I tried the door, even tried to see if I could push my weight against it to force it open. No luck. I bought new construction so it was solid.
Next I tried to figure out a way down. It looked pretty high so I decided to hang from the rails of the balcony. I hitched my leg over the top of the balcony and worked my way down until I was hanging from the bottom of the balcony.
I let go.
I landed and was it was jarring but no broken bones. I brushed myself off and tried to think of the next step. I remembered that I had a key to my car in a magnetic case under the front wheel well.
What could I use in the car?
Then I remembered that I had a window on the first floor in the back of the house.
The thought of smashing the window was unthinkable to me. It was brand new. It was a brand new house! I couldn’t smash the window. How would it get repaired? The house didn’t have a scratch on it!
I tried to come up with another idea and couldn’t. I settled into the idea that I would smash the window and get it repaired afterward. It was a sad moment. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do.
I went into the trunk and got the jack for the car. It was the heaviest movable object I of which I could think. I balanced it in my hand, it had some heft.
I walked around to the back of the house. I stared at the window, dismayed. It broke my heart to have to change the perfect nature of the window.
I mustered my resolve and got into position. I hauled back to get some speed and hammered forward with all my strength.
The jack bounced harmlessly off the window.
I stood aghast.
There wasn’t even a chip or a dent in the window, just some dust from the jack.
“Shit! What do I do now!?”
I would learn later that he house had been built with a window that had two panes with some type of gas between them that made them almost indestructible.
I stood there for 5 minutes, dumbfounded, trying to think of my next step.
Next, I decided to try driving to a pay telephone to call Jeff, who I was dating at the time. In socks and T-shirt , I drove to a nearby gas station with only the change that I had in the car. I remembered Jeff’s number and used one of the quarters I had to dial. Got voicemail. Left an upset/desperate message. Used my last quarter to call back….same results.
My last idea was to go to the police. I knew where the police station was and I could get there pretty easily. I drove over and walked into the station in my now-dirty socks. I told the person at the desk my dilemma and asked for help.
They pointed me to a locksmith they used frequently. I called a little freaked out at this point and asked him if he could come help me get into my house.
“Well, I’m home alone with my kid. Tell you what, try a few other people and if you can’t get anyone else, call me back and I will come out.”
Ugh! I was having visions of sleeping in my car that night.
I tried a few other places and no one answered. I called the first guy back and he promised to be at my house in 30 minutes.
When he got there, I was so grateful I couldn’t stop thanking him.
Unfortunately, the construction company had also spent money on good locks so it took him 45 minutes to unlock the door. I was so relieved when I saw the open door.
His charge: $50
My tip: $100
A perfect window on the ground floor: priceless.