Exit 70. It seemed extraneous at the time.

Just follow me on this one.  It’ll sound rambling and disjointed, but I really do have a point.

A few years ago, I was making cookies in the kitchen, and for some reason I stepped outside.  Maybe because I had just remembered that the plants needed watering… something insignificant like that.  The door out of my kitchen is a sliding glass door, and there is a dowel about an inch in diameter that prevents the door from opening.  The lock technically works, but it really isn’t all that strong.  Anyway, that day, with cookies in the oven, I opened the door with the dowel propped up against the door, but not completely removed.  As I was absentmindedly closing the door from the outside, probably because the air conditioning was on and I wanted to keep the cold air inside, I realized that the dowel was falling back into place, and that I was effectively locking myself outside.  I didn’t have my keys with me.  The door was only open about two inches when I realized what was happening, and there was no way to reach the dowel and knock it away.  The garage has a keypad, so I was able to get into the garage and get a screwdriver, to try to remove the door entirely.  It didn’t work.  That’s good for my house being hard to break into, but bad when I’m the one who needs to break in.  At this point, I’m panicking because (1) I’m locked out of the house with no way in, and (2) I left the oven on with cookies inside.  My neighbor across the street (for those of you who have been to my house, this is the older guy with the motorcycle) saw me at this point and said hi.  I told him I locked myself out, and he chuckled and said, “Good job.”  He then came over to see if he could help, if any of my locks would be easy to MacGyver open… and at that point, he turned the knob on the door connecting the garage to the rest of the house, and it opened.  I wasn’t locked out after all, which is weird because usually I keep that door locked.  I might have been able to save the cookies had I tried opening that door first, but all things considered, one dozen burnt cookies is a small price to pay for not having to break a window to get back in the house.

The 1992 movie Wayne’s World was a favorite of mine in my teenage years.  The movie, featuring characters from Saturday Night Live, was about Wayne and Garth, two heavy metal headbanger types who have a low-rated cable TV show where they pretty much just hang out in Wayne’s mom’s basement and talk about things.  In one scene, a security guard at a concert (played by the late great Chris Farley) tells Wayne that a bigshot record producer will be traveling back through the area a few days later, and Wayne, who has a tendency to break the fourth wall, makes a comment about how the security guard sure had a lot of information.  Wayne’s love interest is the lead singer of a local band, and a few days later, he is trying to win her back from a smarmy Hollywood type.  He comes up with a plan to broadcast a really strong radio signal into the record producer’s limo as he passes back through town, to help her get a record deal.  Wayne makes a comment about how the security guard’s information was useful, even though it seemed extraneous at the time.

A year and a half later, Wayne and Garth were featured in another movie, called (you’ll never guess!) Wayne’s World 2.  In my opinion, Wayne’s World 2 had funny parts but seemed a lot more contrived than the original.  The extraneous information joke was recycled in Wayne’s World 2.  Wayne and Garth encounter some guys stacking crates of chickens and watermelons in the middle of the street, alongside two guys who cross the street with a giant sheet of plate glass every couple minutes, for no apparent reason.  Wayne wonders aloud if this will pay off later, and of course, later in the movie, Wayne’s car crashes spectacularly into all of those things.  The men he met earlier say that their work is done now.

I have a friend who lives in Minnesota.  I hadn’t seen her since 2003, and I’d never met her husband, until they were here a few days ago.  She sent me a message a few weeks ago saying that the two of them would be taking a road trip and passing through my area in a few weeks, and that they hoped to see me.  I offered to let them stay here if they needed a place to stay.  It was a short visit, but a very nice one.  They spent most of the day driving down the north coast among the redwoods (that’s a pretty curvy and mountainous drive), and they had someone else to see in my area earlier that day.  But I did get to talk to them and catch up for a few hours, and they stayed here that night.

The main issue I have with letting people stay at my house is the problem of locking up if they leave while I’m gone.  There has been at least one time when I had friends over Saturday night, and one of them was still asleep on my couch when I left for church Sunday morning.  Obviously, when my friend is in that situation, they can’t lock the deadbolt, so they would either have to leave the door locked without the deadbolt or borrow a key and then return it at a later time.  In this case, my friends from Minnesota would be leaving my house while I was at work, and borrowing a key would be impractical with them being from outside the area.  I considered having them return the key to my work, but that would be out of the way for them as they headed to their next destination.  I was working out all these scenarios in my head… could I have them leave the key in some hidden place in the yard?  Can they drop off my spare key with a neighbor?  Would I feel safe leaving my door locked without a deadbolt for about seven or eight hours?  Would I feel safe giving them the combination to the garage door, even though then the door from the garage to the house would have to be unlocked?

Then suddenly, the answer came to me.  Suddenly, the three different stories I’m telling in this post are going to come together.

I messaged my friend, “Better idea.  I know (from experience, sadly) that it is possible to lock yourself out of the kitchen.  So you can leave the front door deadbolted, leave through the kitchen, lock yourself out just like I did, and then go through the gate to the front of the house.”  Just like the information that seemed extraneous at the time in the Wayne’s World movies, my experience of locking myself out and panicking about the burning cookies ended up serving a useful purpose years later.  Now I’ll feel much less stressed any time I have a friend staying over who needs to leave when I’m not there to lock up behind them; I’ll just show them how to lock themselves out of the kitchen.

And as I’m writing this, I have my music on shuffle, and of course, a song from the Wayne’s World soundtrack comes on.  It’s funny how life works out like that.

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