According to a Russian proverb, the key is stronger than the lock. And for a problem the key is the solution. But today neither fortune cookie wisdom nor key were much of help with our stubborn front door.

The day had begun so innocently. My mother and I - shopping, despite the blasting heat. Two hours later, packed with shopping bags, we headed home. Laughing, in a bubbly dialogue exchange, we envisioned the next hours on the balcony with a cold rosé and a wonderful rich salad. Hopping on the elevator, leaning against its cold metallic walls, we were relieved to be home: to rid ourselves of the heavy bags, kick off our shoes, shower, change and relax in the shade.

In front of our door, my mother takes my possessions, while I finger for our key. One of the two locks clicks open, and I head for the second one, the security lock. Aligning the blade of our key with the wards in the keyway, I wait for the rotating cylinder inside the lock on the other side to snap into position. My key is stuck. It won’t budge. Blood boiling into my face, soon drenched in sweat, my mother irritated, pushing my weight against the lock, back and forth I am rocking the key, with skill and craft I try to turn the knobs, listening for any movement behind the door. But the lock remains unmoved. My mother is already seeing us calling the locksmith and spending hundreds of euros, destroying and replacing the lock and key.

Finally, the door snaps open. Relaxing and letting out a big sigh of relief, we push our bags into the hallway. Closing the door behind us, I am inspecting the lock. What the world had happened? I am twisting the small knob on the security lock, a click, and we are successfully ‘locked in’. Now my mother is frustrated, what was I thinking, she scolds. I am embarrassed. After a fast ping-pong of words, we decide to call the custodian. “Don’t worry, he reassures us, throw the key out of the window, I’ll be in position.” Soon enough, I am leaning over the balcony, the house key wrapped in a small ball of aluminum foil, the custodian lined up underneath. 95 degrees of heat heighten the suspense. “In which direction do I turn”, he calls up. My hands draw circles in the air. He blinks: “Counter-clockwise?”

I race to the door. Through the keyhole, I can see him; we take turns rotating the locks, trying to communicate through a closed, patted door and hope for a happy ending. Suddenly the door cracks open, still held in a locked position by the security chain. Two screwdrivers from outside and inside finally crack the bugger.

Unharmed key in one hand, a picked lock in the other: So were the Russians right? You bet they were.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2017.
All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. © All rights reserved.