I have a dear friend who takes security of his household very seriously. Every night, since I have known him, he would make the rounds of his considerably large house to insure the doors were locked and the windows secured. It was a task he took seriously. Once that was accomplished, he set the perimeter security alarm and went to bed confident that he and his family were safe from intruders. About two years ago, my friend had a stroke that caused his life to be turned upside down and inside out in more ways than can be imagined. Yet, with the regularity of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, he persists in this important duty, albeit from a wheelchair. He does it frequently throughout the day as well. I have come to appreciate his careful routine.
When I first started living alone in my seaside condo, I was particularly conscious of security. I intended to purchase a fire escape ladder that I might hurl off my third floor front porch; the porch is the only form of egress other than the front door. On the other hand, it would be difficult for intruders to invade my space unless they entered through the front door. In terms of security risk, the front door was fit. It consisted of a lock on the doorknob as well as a deadbolt lock. Every night, sometime between 9:30 and 11:30pm, I would rattle the porch handle with its frail doorknob lock. In the winter, the bedroom slider out to the porch was particularly safe because it was encased in plastic to preserve heat; truthfully, I neglected it. Before I vacuum-sealed the slider behind plastic, I should have cut a wood pole to further impede any possible intruder. I will have to do so this winter. Finally, I would turn on the hall light, walk the eighteen feet or so down the corridor to the front door, check the position of the doorknob lock - which matched that of the porch's. If the doorknob latch bolt was laying down, it was locked. easy to remember. Lastly, I engaged the deadbolt by using the thumb turn to position the bolt into the strike on the doorframe. Such an action left me feeling safe. And secure.
I would turn off the hall light, make my way back to the living room, turn off the living room light and feel ready to tuck into bed. I thought of my friend making his (much grander) evening rounds almost every single night. It was a way to keep him in my thoughts
As I was moving out of my apartment, I was fortunate to have the help of a man who was well-versed in the mechanics of my apartment. He had taken care of similar ones in the building when working on the property maintenance crew. I enjoyed talking to him when our paths crossed. I knew he was from Jamaica. One day, I asked him to explain something to me. We were both loaded to capacity. He had a handcart to haul boxes to storage and I had put my more delicate things in my wheelchair to get them from the apartment to the elevator to his truck. As we were leaving to bring the truckload to storage, I used my keys to lock up. He commented, ever so politely, that I was unlocking the deadbolt. The simple door latch lock was secure, but so far as the dead bolt, with a simple twist of the wrist, I was, apparently, unlocking it. I said to him, “Are you sure I am not locking it?”
In his pleasant lilting voice, he said, “Sorry, no Mam, you’re unlocking it.”
I said, "No way!!"
His eyes twinkled and I could see him struggling not to laugh. If his laughter was introduced into that moment, I just might have cried. Instead, his very white teeth front and center with his beaming Jamaican smile stretching broadly across his face. It was one of those moments that will stay with me.
“Are you telling me that every night, when I, a middle-aged woman who lives alone believed that I was locking myself behind a fortress, protected from all harm for the past year, I was unlocking the door…..in effect, inviting anyone, EVERYONE in?”
He said, “This is the Vineyard. No Problem.”
We both cracked up laughing.