Locked out in my PJs with no spare key … aaaargh!

Locked out in my PJs with no spare key … aaaargh!

I have a recurring dream that I’m taking out the recycling, I’ve forgotten to put the lock on the latch and the door closes behind me leaving me stranded in my PJs in the lift lobby with no phone, no money and no dignity. At least I’m not nude, nobody takes out the recycling nude, although there is a rumour about Mrs Popov in 905.

Actually, it’s not a dream, it’s just a fear I have. Sure I could take other precautions… a key on a lanyard round my neck maybe. Put some reading glasses on there as well. Might as well wear a T shirt that says “I’m old and losing it” for good measure.

I could trust that I’ll never forget to put the lock on the latch and just blithely go forth, keyless and confident, flattening my cardboard, trying to minimise the noise from the wine bottles lest the neighbours think I’m an alcoholic. But no, I’d flinch the second I heard the door close behind me.

Fiddling with the door closer so that the door doesn’t close automatically is an option… if you’re a homicidal maniac who’s prepared to put everyone’s life at risk and I’m not! Outrageous.

I don’t think there are many downsides to apartment dwelling, but if there is one, it’s where to put a spare key for those impossible to imagine situations when your lose or forget it. House dwellers are spoilt for choice with pots, fake rocks, countless horizontal surfaces within easy reach they can tape a key under.

You can’t have the only apartment door with a pot plant next to it on your floor. You might as well put up a sign reading “Key Here” with an arrow pointing to it. A welcome mat has the same problem.

You can leave a spare key in your letterbox if you live in a house (you might as well leave the doors open though) but that doesn’t work for our lockable mailboxes in apartment buildings.

You could leave a spare with a neighbour, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be there when you need them. And if you don’t have your key the chances are you don’t have your phone either to contact them.

If you’ve got your phone you can call the agent if you rent, or a locksmith and show them your ID once you’re inside. As long as it’s not the middle of the night.

Most apartment block lifts go to the car parking without any additional security. You could leave a key in a magnetic box under the car’s wheel arch, that could work. In fact, that’s a good idea. That solves the problem, you don’t need the car key to get to it.

Ah, but some lifts DO require you to swipe the thingy to get back to your floor. Oh, you don’t own a car. Damn, thought I was onto something there.

Of course, some of us are rich enough to live in a block with a concierge; you can leave a spare with them. They are the kings and queens of discretion. Nobody in your building will ever know you arrived at the desk in bathrobe.

I’m kidding, they’ll not only know, they’ll probably see the replay of the CCTV vision on the concierge’s computer screen.

If you own your apartment, you can ditch the spring throw lock and install a deadlock. That way, you can’t actually lock yourself out as you have to turn the key to lock the door. Now that does work. You can get one with a number pad so you don’t need a key to get in at all.

That’s your problem solved. Use the same PIN you do for your banking, and everything else that needs one. But I rent.

Oh yeah, I just need to get a wedge to put under the door when I open it. Easy. Apologies to everyone who thought of that straight away, but I guess you stopped reading before you got here.

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