Trying Out: Standing on Shaky Legal Ground (Week Thirty-Six)
Pardon me for being vague here, but the fewer details the better. This time I did something on the fuzzy side of legal.
Once upon a time I was allowed regular entry to a place. I had a key. Everything was strictly above-board. Then my status changed. I did not have a reason to enter the grounds anymore.
But no one ever asked for me key back.
For years I had wondered whether or not the building had changed their locks. Could I gain easy access if I really wanted to? Were the folks in charge smart enough to re-key the place?
Now, I know the logical argument against what I wanted to do. Technically it could be construed as trespassing. I could not argue that I had a valid reason to be on the grounds. There was a certain element of sketchiness to my plan.
However it would have been just as sketchy had I made a personal inquiry. “Hi there. You don’t know me, but I have a history here. And I have this key. Do you mind if put this key in this lock here and see if it still functions? If I can still enter the building? I mean, if not; that’s cool. I’ll just take this key and go home. Oh, you don’t mind if I try? Well, if it works you can have the key. Just assume that I haven’t made any copies and that I’m not some loon running reconnaissance on the place. Don’t mind me. I’m perfectly normal. Do dee do dee doooooo.”
Whether I ask permission or not, I come across as a crazy person. So I might as well be a crazy person that sneaks around at two o’clock in the morning and lurks under cover of darkness.
I am clearly a criminal mastermind. After all, I wore a black cap over my head. No gloves though, because then I would be advertising my deviousness if I were caught. “I know it is 62 degrees out; but my hands were cold. Honest!”
I drove my car down the empty streets of town. I parked my car in a lot I knew would be clear of any witnesses. I walked briskly and quietly (sneakily?) onto the property. As I crept onto the lot, some thoughts were prominent in my mind.
“What if the security levels have changed? What if they have added motion-sensor lights? Or a dog? Or a trap-door that opens up to a pit of angry army ants?”
Also, “this is stupid. This is really, really, stupid.”
Ever so quietly I approached the door. I treaded lightly on my jogging shoes. (I was ready for a quick exit. I can sprint when needed.) I had the key in my hand. I snuck up to the door. No lights, sirens, or barking announced my presence.
Careful not to leave any fingerprints, I tried the key in the lock. Part of me was thrilled that there was no light. (A flashlight would have been one more thing to carry. Plus a focused beam of light at two in the morning draws the kind of attention I was trying desperately to avoid.) The other part of me struggled to see well enough to slide the key into the casing. I even had it upside down at one point.
I tried the key in the first lock, but could not get it to fit. The keys had been changed. So I walked away.
Two seconds later, I walked back. I decided to try again. And it fit.
So I moved on to the second lock. My breathing was still accelerated. I kept listening for sounds inside that my presence had been discovered. Experience taught me that the area I was in was a low-traffic spot, but I was still on alert.
Try as I might, I could not get the key to work in the second lock. So I gave up.
For all of five seconds, that is. “This makes no sense. Why would they leave one lock unchanged and replace the other? It is a two-lock door. The key should work.”
I approached a third time. The “this is stupid!” voice was getting louder. I was determined to find out the answer. And I refused to let myself think that I could come back and try again. There would be no returning or second chances on this adventure. Once I got my answer, I was done.
I wiggled the key. I jostled. I finagled. Sure enough, the key fit. I could feel it starting to turn in the mechanism. My key would still allow me entry.
So I left.
I was not going to enter the building. There was nothing left for me inside that place. I consigned it to the past and I am fine leaving it there.
In the past, I was never consulted when told to leave those grounds. It was just decided for me. “You are done here.” Now I can say it is my call. And I am done there.
Perhaps I come across as crazy. There are some possibilities that stick with a person more than others. What ever happened to that high school boyfriend? What would have happened if I had left the house five minutes earlier and avoided that car crash? What if I had gone to a different college? What if people are foolish enough to keep the same locks year after year?
I snuck back to my car. Officially consigning my key to retirement status, I pondered the grounds (legal and actual) that I had trod all over. I thought about a lesson others might benefit from.
Change your locks people.