Tips on Living Alone; Vol. 2

Doors are going to be the death of me. I’m totally convinced of this fact. If you’ve been reading this for awhile, you might remember the time I locked myself out of my apartment like an idiot; luckily nothing that bad has happened since then, but I have been having a fairly high number of issues with doors lately. 

When I got back home after my trip to the U.S., my key for the building door didn’t work. At that point, I’d been awake for roughly a million hours, so I was completely exhausted and all I wanted was to get my God-forsaken luggage upstairs (a feat in itself), and collapse. But nope, I couldn’t get in the damn door. Luckily, the first neighbor I buzzed was home and opened the door. But I had no idea why my key didn’t work. When I left the house later that day, I took all the keys my landlord had given me (about a dozen), and none of them worked in the door. But there was nothing for it, I had to go out, because I had no food and had to do shopping. When I got home, I put the key in the lock, and it turned right away. Odd, right? I chalked it up to my extreme tiredness and figured I had gone temporarily stupid. It happens.  

Over the next three weeks, it happened again off and on. I wrote a few emails to my landlord, and he called to say that he hadn’t been able to reach the building maintenance company, but as far as he knew, the locks were still the same, and he was trying to get to the bottom of it. It was really bizarre, one day the key would work fine, and the next day it wouldn’t. Lucky for me, the family that lives in the first-floor apartment is almost always home, so someone was always home to let me in. But this was really a pain in the ass… I didn’t want to go out, especially if it meant coming home late at night, because I didn’t want to risk not being able to get in, or having to wake someone up. I don’t think people would be too happy about being woken up to let in the idiot American neighbor who can’t figure out how her key works. 

Finally last week I got an email from my landlord saying that the problem had been found and fixed that day; apparently there was a small piece of plastic in the lock that kept causing the problem. No idea how the hell that happens, but hey, the key works now, and I am happy.  

Additionally over the last two weeks, the key for my apartment door has been getting harder and harder to turn. Locking and unlocking your door should not be a two-hand job, especially when you’re carrying as much crap as I usually am when I’m coming and going. But then, I remembered a lesson that we did in some of my classes a couple months ago. This lesson was all about a miracle product called “Mr. Fix-It,” that did all sort of handy things like cleaning rust, removing water, and lubing up (haha) your locks. And what real-life product does this? Why WD-40 does! And even luckier for me, they sell it in Germany. Now, I never would have remembered this without that lesson. Not a chance in hell. Is it bad if your lessons are more useful for you than the students? Oh well, at least it helped someone. But really, I kid, they loved that unit.

So I asked my students where I could buy some WD-40, and they all told me OBI would have it. But OBI is sooooo far away. And by that, I mean about a 10-minute tram ride and a 4-minute walk. Last weekend I gave serious thought to going over there, but I decided to be lazy instead. This was a mistake.  

I walked out of my house this morning at 9:40. According to my weather ticker before I left, it was about 4°F (or -15°C, if you prefer) in Nürnberg this morning. It was that particular kind of cold that sucks the breath out of you as soon as you walk outside, which is always fun. I closed the door behind me, and stuck my key in to lock it. Key wouldn’t go in all the way. The lock was frozen. Awesome. This door is the bane of my existence. It’s cold as a witch’s tit outside and I can’t get back in the damn house. 

I tried in vain to force the key in, but it wasn’t happening. I figured there was nothing for it, I’d go meet my friend and hope that by the time I got home it would be a little warmer and that would help. 

The temperature crawled up to maybe 15° this afternoon, and when I got home several hours later I was able to get the door open. But I decided I wasn’t taking any more chances, and headed straight out again to go to OBI to pick up some WD-40. Because one of it’s most important uses this time of year is this one… it keeps locks from freezing. 

So my handy-dandy living alone tip of the day is to pick up a can. And when it starts getting cold, spray the hell out of your locks. Because when it’s this cold, you don’t want to be stuck outside alone. And a 5€ can is a hell of a lot better than locksmith prices. 


3 thoughts on “Tips on Living Alone; Vol. 2

  1. This has happened to all of us here. I always carry a little bottle of “Schloßenteiser” in my purse. You can get this at any “Tankstelle”. One squirt and locks work. However you have to keep squirting on occasion, because it somehow freezes up all over again. WD-40 is great, but expensive. Liquid Moly works just as well or any generic “Kriechöl”. You can find a little bottle of squirt oil in one of OBI's “Things for 1 Euro” bins (or at Praktika, Bauhaus, Globus, Real, Toom, Hornbach, Hellwig, etc.) Don't worry! In summer it will go away. If it keeps happening, I would replace the lock (about 20 Euro). You can do it with a screwdriver. I would have done that anyway when you moved in, because you have no idea who still has an old key to your apartment and might stop by when you're not at home (You know, like stalking ex-boyfriends from the previous tenant).

  2. Thanks for the excellent advice, Weissdorn! A bottle to carry around is a great idea, I should have looked for one when I was at OBI yesterday. I'll check out a Tankstelle next time I'm near one. I just couldn't believe that it happened here… all the years of living in freeeeezing Wisconsin winters, and this is the first time it's happened to me. And I have literally had to chisel my car open because it was encased in ice. Locks were fine though, go figure. I hope it doesn't keep happening, I'd hate to replace locks. My landlord did that when he bought the place early last year, and I'm his first tenant, so hopefully no stalking ex's will show up here! That sounds like an interesting story though…

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