Like any recent college graduate, I thought I was quite the grownup when I signed the lease on my very first apartment in Boston five years ago. But unlike getting locked out of a dorm room, getting locked out of a real city apartment was quite the challenge. It all started when my new roommate, who I was just getting to know, left for a weeklong vacation. No problem. I could handle a week on my own in the big city, right? WRONG. The second I stepped out of my apartment for my post-work jog, (such a grown-up activity!) I realized I left my keys inside. It eventually happens to everyone, but getting locked out is never fun. Here are the five life lessons I learned when it happened to me:
- Neighbors are nice
After realizing I was locked out, I needed a place to collect myself, but more importantly, I had to borrow someone’s phone to call my landlord for help. I knocked on my neighbors’ doors – something I had never done, and was relieved when a couple of normal-looking girls around my age answered the door downstairs. Immediately I wondered why I hadn’t reached out to them before – we should have been friends! They were super gracious and sat with me while I made calls all over the city trying to find a way back into my new Boston abode.
- Landlords don’t know everything
The first call I made was to my landlord, who I was sure would have a spare set of keys. Unfortunately, she said that she wouldn’t be able to drive into the city that night to let me in. I asked her what to do next. Her suggestion: call AAA. Yes, the AAA that provides car tows. But hey, I was new to the grown-up world and thought maybe there was an AAA apartment service I wasn’t yet aware of. I called AAA and inquired about having them unlock my apartment – the customer service agent’s confusion quickly turned into laughter at my question. I hung up, defeated. Turns out that landlords don’t always have a good solution and sometimes you have to take things into your own hands.
- Patience is a virtue
After finally getting ahold of a locksmith that would let me into my apartment, I was told I’d have to wait three hours for him to arrive. Yes, three full hours with these neighbors I barely knew. Getting locked out definitely requires a certain amount of zen in order to stay sane.
- Locksmiths are expensive!
My hero locksmith arrived, cut off my lock, and installed a new doorknob. Safe at home at last to the tune of $500. Of course he requested this money in cash, which seemed shady, but I got a receipt. If you leave your keys at home, be ready to pay the price – literally. This might require giving up happy hours and grocery delivery for a while.
- Hide a spare
Of course, the single most important lesson I learned by getting locked out is to have a spare set of keys hidden somewhere (and please, don’t hide your keys under the one pair of boots in the hallway…so obvious). A great solution is having a trustworthy friend keep a set for safe keeping and you can do the same for them. You never know when this will save you $500, 3 hours, and an embarrassing call to AAA.
What embarrassing things have you done to get back in to your apartment after you were locked out? Tell us in comments!