Saturday, February 4, 2006 9:27:27 EST
Doors and Locks, Materials and Labor

Two or three weeks ago, Joe managed to lock everyone (including himself) out of the boys' bedroom. There was no real urgency, so Isabel and Molly left it to me when I got home.

No problem: bedroom doors all have privacy locks, not serious deadbolts or exterior knob locks. So I just need a small screwdriver or an awl and I'm in business.


For some reason, one and only one bedroom door in our house has an actual key lock on it, which requires either a locksmith or a much better lock-picker than me.

Can you guess which one?

After a couple attempts to gently kick in the door (it seemed like a coherent thought at the time) that succeeded only in completely freaking out Joe, I called Brendan, who recommended either carding the door (already tried it) or slipping a scraper straight through the trim to push back the latch (no luck whatsoever; I now think I may have been getting caught up on the not-very-flush latch plate).

At this point, he asked, "Do you have a sledgehammer?" He recommended knocking the knob off to get to the inside part of the latch. He also pointed out that a replacement knob set would cost around $15, and having a locksmith even show up would cost at least $100.

I don't own a sledgehammer (I don't even want to imagine what the boys would do with one), but I have a couple two-by-fours kicking around, and two dozen whacks with one of those persuaded the outer knob to fall off, leaving only some quick disassemly before I gained entry.

So there's been a big hole in the boys' bedroom door for a while. I finally got over to the home center today to rectify the situation, and discovered Brendan's estimate was off: the exact same knob set cost a whopping $10.97. Once I got it home, it took about five minutes to install. Joe still hasn't noticed it's there.

There's a valuable lesson here about how incredibly efficient manufacturing can substitute very efficiently for labor, but its elaboration is left as an exercise for the reader.