There's something to be said for being a single, independant woman. No husband to nag, no kids to chase after. And for now we'll just pretend to ignore the ticking of the biological clock as if it wasn't even there.
I like the idea of being self-sufficient, dependant on no one but myself. I like nothing more than the idea of taking care of every inconvenience that creeps up- dealing with each small problem with ease and confidence.
It's a nice idea, isn't it?
The problem with being self-sufficient is that every now and then, it means I have to actually be sufficient.
After watching the horror show of the nightly news one evening, I came to the conclusion that I needed stronger security on my doors. I decided that if some deranged mental case had any plans of breaking into my house to ravage my body or pillage my home, he was going to have to get through more than my flimsy little door lock.
Which, by the way, my brother had recently demonstrated could be breached with a plastic card and a little wiggle. Of the door, not my brother.
Like any self-respecting woman concerned about security,of course, my first idea was a moat. With crocodiles. Or sharks. Yeah, sharks were good.
But I had a pretty good idea that my landlord wouldn't approve the paperwork required for a moat, so what was my second choice?
A deadbolt, of course.
Shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean, it couldn't be too hard. Every other house I'd ever seen had a deadbolt. Except mine, of course.
If all those other doors had managed to acquire one, mine could too. I'm self-sufficient. I'm independant. I am Woman.
I drove to the nearest store with a do-it-yourself hardware department and, after following the directions of an employee, found myself facing a paltry display of shiny doorknobs and gleaming deadbolts. It was a small selection, but I didn't want anything fancy. After several minutes of deliberation and a few ignorant insepctions, I made my choice.
The drive home was satisfying. I'd bought a deadbolt. And not only had I bought one, but I planned on installing it! I was well on my way to becoming handywoman of the year.
When I got home, I opened the box and systematically spread the few parts and screws on the floor within easy reach. Organization is key. So is an electric screwdriver, I'd learned long ago.
I unfolded the directions and, looking at the diagram, easily figured out the first part to put in the door- the latch.
It was after I had the latch already in my hand that I discovered a very important missing component.
There were no holes in the door.
That seemed wrong to me. After all, I'd paid for one of the more expensive models of deadbolt- tamper and pick proof and everything. It just seemed only right that it come complete. But after a desperate search, revealing that the hole did not come with the set, I came to the chilling conclusion that I was going to have to put the hole in the door myself! That required tools, and not the tame ones that worked under my own power. Nope. I was going to have to find a power tool.
According to the instructions, a drill. Were women even allowed to use drills? Being self-sufficient was suddenly becoming harder.
Another trip to the store, then back home with a lighter version of the others the store offered- and more money than I'd wanted to spend.
Using the template- the traceable pattern included in the instructions- I marked the door where the holes for the deadbolt and latch would go. It sounds simple, I know, but by the time I was finished that whole area of my door looked like the easel for a crazed abstract artist.
Drilling the holes was it's own adventure. It was nothing short of a miracle that it was the right size and shape- I still have no idea how I managed it. Needless to say, it took courage and faith. It finally came out okay, but by the time I was finished I was grateful that I hadn't lost an eye or a finger, though it did take awhile for my arms to stop vibrating and my cat to come out of hiding. And of course I had a mess to clean up later. Nobody ever mentions the messes.
Next, I had to use a wedge to gouge out the spot for the striker plate in the door jamb- you know, that rectangle metal piece that the latch fits into when the lock is engaged.
The word rectangle is to be used loosely based on what mine looked like- I don't really think there's a word for the shape I created in the wood, but in the end, I was able to smash the striker plate in well enough to screw it into place.
Another look at the directions decided my next step. Basically, just putting the lock together in the holes I'd drilled and screwing it into place.
It seemed relatively easy. I just put each piece into the holes that I'd provided and used my handy electric screwdriver to screw them into place. The actual process was pretty easy, though I did have to twist and turn a little when I'd accidentally put it in upside down the first time.
When I'd tightened the last screw, I stood back and smiled in satisfaction. I'd installed a lock! Holes and everything!
But then..... I tried to lock it. It wouldn't move. The thumbturn wouldn't budge.
There was only one thing I could do. I unscrewed each of the previously painstakingly turned screws, pulled it all apart, and inspected the inside mechanism. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I figured I looked like I did, if anyone were to pass by my open front door and observe me.
Because I had no idea why it hadn't worked the first time, though I was sure I'd put it in correctly, I did the only thing I could-
-I put it back exactly the way it was the first time, hoping for a miracle.
And I got the miracle, or at least half of it. This time, the lock would turn when I used the key for the oustide- but on the inside, the thumbturn would still not move in the slightest.
Now I had it....I understood. It was part of the process. The instructions hadn't said anything about this part, but apparently it was normal to redo it more than once. It must be. The lock was working a little better after the second installation, though I'd done nothing different when I'd reinstalled it.
I stood back and stared at the door, or more specifically, the deadbolt in the door. I narrowed my eyes in challenge.
If life had a soundtrack, I would now be hearing the western showdown theme as I accepted the challenge.
I would not let this piece of steel win. I knew the game now. I was to do take it apart and reinstall it until I won, while the lock did what it could to silently thwart me.
So that's exactly what I did. Two more times, making it four total- with a small break in between to use the drill for a small, crucial adjustment to the size of the hole.
But finally, I screwed the last screw- for the fourthe time- , laid down my screwdriver and held my breath. I used the key to test the outside (which had quit working during one of the previous installations) and let out my breath gratefully when it worked just right, and smoother than ever.
But next was the real test- getting both sides of the lock to work at the same time. I put my fingers on the thumbturn on the inside of the deadbolt, held my breath, prayed, and turned.
I was stunned into stillness when I realized it had worked.
I'd done it! I'd installed a deadbolt in my door- holes and all- and it worked just the way it was suppose to. It had only taken five and a half hours and four tries, and you could barely tell that the holes were a little more jagged and mishapen than they should be.
But the important thing was that it would keep possible intruders out, and that I. Did. It!
So let this be a guide to all that want to keep serial killers and sexual deviants from breaking into their homes- if I can do it, anybody can do it.
Just remember- the deadbolt kits don't come complete with the holes, and they forgot to put in the instructions that more than one installation is required before the lock works properly.