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A Series of Things: The Lock (Another Study in Neurosis) January 29, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

What is the natural life span of a combination lock?

I’ve had the one I’m using for a couple of decades.

A few months ago, it started to give me trouble. The internal notches weren’t immediately aligning when I got to the last number. It felt sticky. I worried. I’d run the combination again and again, until it took. It always took . . . eventually.

I didn’t go out and buy a new lock, mostly because—get this—I like the combination.

Ah, the combination, which came unbidden, attached to this particular lock, a lock I picked up god knows where 20 years ago to use in a downtown DC gym. (At least I think that’s when and why I got it. If not, it’s even older than I think it is.) This combination of three numbers is a completely arbitrary set—but the first two mean something to me. It’s almost as if someone chose a hard-to-guess PIN especially for me, then bestowed it upon this lock.

Lately, the problem with the last number seems to have corrected itself. The lock has been opening smoothly.

But for how long? Should I worry about the day when I might need to saw the thing off my gym locker?

I really like the combination.


1. Helen - January 29, 2010

It’s like the anti-Lost.

2. Mali - January 29, 2010

Erm … can’t you choose the combination on a new lock?

3. Eulalia Benejam Cobb (Lali) - January 29, 2010

Why do you need to put a lock on your gym locker? This is Vermont (o.k., New York). Has something changed?

4. indigo bunting - January 30, 2010

Helen: Smiling.

Mali: If I bought a lock that let me do that. I couldn’t choose the combo on this one. I don’t know if you can generally with these kind of locks. Perhaps I should look into that. (The locks that I have that let me choose are single-digit based, yet another factor in this neurotic scenario.)

Lali: I always have my wallet in there. Do I think anyone would really steal it? No. But, you know.

5. Mali - January 30, 2010

IB: A workmate had her bra stolen in the gym whilst she was showering. It pays to be cautious!

6. laurie - January 30, 2010

i hate to tell you this, but … you could get any new lock and a locksmith could set the same old combination to it, if you like.

7. margaret - January 31, 2010

leave wallet in car. unlocked. with keys in car. that’s how its done. Use lock as a plumb bob for putting up wallpaper or centering a chandelier. Or use as charming, memory-rich paperweight…

8. Elizabeth - February 1, 2010

I still have the padlock I used in college, no, wait, in high school because I am a) sentimentally attached and b) find the combination easy to remember (laurie’s information is blowing my mind – who knew there was a form of reincarnation for padlocks…)
My lock is still working beautifully because I take the precaution of rarely using it;) I lock my wallet in the key lockers in the vestibule and leave my locker room locker unlocked (whew) because it is less of a hassle that way. And Lali, cherie, you are living in a fantasy, there is plenty of theft in Vermont which you will discover to your sorrow if you keep leaving your valuables unlocked in the locker room. sorry.

Indigo, I read an interesting (but depressing) article a few months ago about the effect of Walmart on global manufacturing. It actually used padlocks as an example of how Walmart has depressed the quality of manufactured goods; apparently they really don’t make ’em like they used to.

9. LisaS - February 22, 2010

i still have mine from high school, too. just like that one, except with brown paint because RebL and i claimed our lockers the day before they painted them. so the painters painted around our locks, mostly. x, x+2, 2x. a perfect combination. the other one that i remember–it’s on the kids’ bikes in the basement–is x, 6x, 16x.

we also have several others we’ve bought over the years, sitting in the junk drawers waiting for one of us to take them to a notary so that Master will send us the combinations.

10. indigo bunting - February 22, 2010

Ha! Is that true? Can one get a combination from Master if one takes them to a notary? How utterly interesting!

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