Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Scare and Annoy Your Partner

I am, in many ways, a paranoid person.
It's not that I don't trust people; I do. I intrinsically want to trust most people I meet. However, I have my reasons for being skeptical and paranoid. I have a husband who is a computer geek, and thus we frequent many computer/security conferences. I have been a volunteer at several domestic violence shelters all over the country, and have heard countless stories about stalking, abuse, and the like.
Thus, when my husband told me that our locks on our apartment looked different, my heart fell to the pit of my stomach.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
My eyes squinted and my gaze darted from one side to the other. “Really?”
I let this information sink into my brain, while he explained what exactly looked different and how. My husband is, by many accounts, a statistical anomaly—really, he is. His guesses on multiple choice questions are statistically more accurate than chance. Not only that, but he is also very observant. Not Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Homes observant, but he could tell you every continuity error in the show as you watch it, complain each time a wall moves when the slightest weight is put on it, and detail every car that he saw in the show. Therefore, when my husband says that the locks on our apartment look different, I tend to believe him.
CC-BY-2.0 Fat Les (bellaphon) from London, UK (Flickr) 
“Okay.” I say, still processing this new information.
“It was probably the management company, and they just forgot to inform us.”
“Well, it could be that someone broke into our place and damaged the lock so they replaced it.”
“Seems like a lot of work not to mention expense if someone is breaking in.”
“Well, if they did that, it wouldn't be a typical break in. Whoever would do that wouldn't want their presence to be known to us. In addition,” he offers, “they could have decoded the lock to make a duplicate of our key so that they could enter our place any time they want.”
“Okay...why? Pin and tumbler locks are easy to pick, not to mention, it takes all of two seconds to bump open a regular lock. Why go to all that hassle of replacing a lock?”
Remember, security conferences.
My husband shrugs. “Yes, but it may look less suspicious if they had a key than if they sat there picking a lock every time they wanted in.”
Needless to say, this conversation took up the remainder of our lunch together. We discussed all the possibilities, one of them being that my husband was simply wrong, but this argument didn't get much support from him. In our list of possibilities, the most likely was that the management company had changed the locks, and simply forgotten to inform us. Therefore, it was my responsibility, upon arriving home, to check in with them. If they hadn't changed the locks, I would inquire about getting new locks put in, the cost, and how soon it could be done. 
If the management company said they didn't change the locks, then I was to check to see if a false lock was put in. A false lock, as it was explained to me, is a lock that had pins specifically cut so that any key inserted would open the door. This would be evidence that our apartment had been broken into.
Finally, I was to check to see if anything was amiss.
We finish eating lunch, and I practically ran out of the restaurant to check in with the management company, who, of course, had done nothing to our locks. I told them about my husband's suspicions, and asked how much it would cost to get a new lock put in.
The woman at the desk was polite, and she kindly told me that she needed to get back to me.
Which left me to check my house.
I have nightmares about being alone in my house with an intruder.
The thought has kept me up at night before.
I have absolutely no idea how to act. Do I get a knife from the kitchen? No. Most weapons used by the victim are turned against him/her, and I didn't exactly feel like being knifed.
Do I sneak around?
Sounds like a good way of surprising whoever is in your house and getting shot.
I have, on one occasion, called the police on the suspicion that there was someone in my house. It was the most humiliating thing. The police showed up, my underwear and other dirty clothes lying on the floor, and not an intruder in sight.
I too, looked at the lock. My husband's suspicion gained credence when I noticed how new and shiny it looked compared to all the other locks of the house. Many of our locks have some scratch here or there, but not this one. It looked polished and new.
I quietly (and calmly) searched my house. I went through all of my things, checking my jewelry, my books, my knives, my clothing, everything was in its proper place. Nothing had been moved.
I was a little bit relieved, as I tried to convince myself that my husband is just being hyper-paranoid.
Two tense hours pass for me in the apartment, as I analyze every sound that I heard, every creak, every car passing by. I was more than just a little relieved when I needed to leave for class.
I came home from class to find my husband with a screwdriver and flashlight.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Checking for bugs,” he whispers in my ear after a kiss.
We are crazy. We're crazy people. We have gone over the deep end. I know it. We, while interesting and unique, are not that interesting! We are on no government watch list, that I know of, we have not recently threatened any political leader, or joined any radical groups. This is insane!
Still, I told myself, better safe than sorry.
My husband continues his search, and ends the evening by talking with his friend who is a physical security expert.
I go to bed, half of my mind made up that we are mad, the other half, thinking every move I make is being watched.
It was difficult to fall asleep, to say the least.
I wake up the next morning to a text from my husband.
“I was wrong. Lock looks different in low light. We're good.”
I roll over, putting my face in my pillow, and remind myself that a little bit of chaos keeps life interesting.
At least this way I will have a good story.  


  1. maybe a little mad. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    1. Awesome! My first comment ever! Thanks for responding Ann. :-)
      I agree with you. While going through this, even though I thought we were crazy for thinking someone changed our locks, the thought of "what if we're not..." kept popping up in my mind. Crazier things have been known to happen.

  2. After such Sturm & Drang over the locks business, your husband's sudden nonchalance reminds me of one of Gilda Radner's routines on the old SNL. Someone would raise an important and topical issue of the day (say, violence in the streets). She would go off on a tirade about "violins in the streets". She would pontificate on the missing cultural benefits of music, etc, etc, etc. Eventually, someone would correct her thus, "No. We were talking about VIOLENCE in the streets, not VIOLINS in the streets!" Her only response was, "Oh. Never mind ...."

    1. Yes! I've seen those. They are on the SNL DVDs from the 1970s. They are very good, and still funny. It makes me wonder if all of the news skits that they do today will still be funny 40 years from now.