Monday, March 24, 2003


I’ve been intending to respond to the lock/don’t lock query for a while now, but between personal financial drama, the springy nature of spring and our latest colonial enterprise (I’m going to call it that even if no one else is; I prefer honesty to tact) I hadn’t gotten a round tuit. Remember those silly things that were given out as premiums at company picnics and such? They were coasters, usually; ’cause they had to be round, see. They were emblazoned in big letters with the word TUIT with a smaller legend reading “Now you can’t say you never got a round tuit.” Ah, the ’70s, how nostalgic we are for them; and how glad we are of their passing.

Anyway, on to locking. I’m of mixed minds. I live in the sort of neighborhood that some people see as a wealth of Victorian taste and architecture and others see as a crime-riddled nightmare. Let me tell you, if you think this is bad, I’ve got all of West Baltimore to show you and we’re not even going to discuss Detroit or South Bronx. Still, it’s probably not the most pastoral of sections. (A bit more so now though thanks to the monkey grass Lisa brought up on her visit this weekend last.)

However, I live right on a major street, and rowhouse architecture being what it is, the houses are flush against the sidewalk. Anybody trying to get into my house would be really obvious, so it’s highly unlikely that the potential robber would bother with the front door at all, preferring the relative obscurity of the rear doors and windows off the garden. Those doors, yes, I lock. Crime in this neighborhood is always a crime of opportunity; never the Grand Heist sort of thing. Someone sees an open window, checks to make sure no one’s looking, and pops in. There’s no casing or planning involved. Even a flimsy lock probably guarantees that no one will bother you.

The front door, though, I lock mostly out of habit. I have two sets of front doors — an outer set (intended in 1883 as storm doors, really) that open into a little vestibule, and then the “real” front doors that actually give in to the house. I lock the outer set, but actually took the lock off the inner doors. They have beautiful etched ruby glass panels, and I’d rather have someone just walk in than smash it out. And, in the summer, I put up the screen doors inside the vestibule and leave both sets open (when I’m home, at least) to air the house. For that matter, a score of times I’ve come downstairs in the morning to discover that I’d never bothered to lock the front doors the night before.

So far I’ve had but one “intruder” through the front door. I’d been fooling around with the planters out front and hadn’t locked the door when I came back in. I was sitting in the front parlor and reading, when I heard the door open and the unmistakable sound of someone shuffling through mail. My mail, my vestibule. I walked into the hall just as a nicely-dressed young lady opened the inner set of doors. She looked up from my mail, saw me, and dropped her jaw. She’d evidently been so preoccupied that she simply walked into my house instead of her own house two doors up the street. I felt badly for having startled her — she wasn’t really expecting to find a random guy in what she believed to be her house — and she in turn was so apologetic that she sent me a box of cookies the next day.

Yeah, this is a really crappy neighborhood, eh?

Sunday, March 09, 2003


I saw Bowling for Columbine last night. Great movie; Michael Moore raises all sorts of interesting topics and gives us a vivid big screen experience. Since I saw it at the Byrd, I made the connection easily: the first two generations of movie palace patrons were accustomed to seeing their President and the news great big. I found it a tad alarming.

The question I’ll throw out, though, comes from Moore’s exploration of the topic of fear-mongering. Canadians, for the most part, don’t lock their doors. He confirms this by opening the doors of a number of homes, in a city whose name I have forgotten. I’m betting we all lock up, and gasp at the idea that people who seem so like us, just living further north, don’t.

Do you lock, or not? Even if you’re home in the middle of the day?