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Thursday, February 26, 2009

the door latch

       One of my favorite features that my hotel room boasts is the latch that keeps the door firmly closed even when someone has a key.  


       I wish all doors had this. 

      Every morning the maid tries to get in my room at the ungodly hour of 9 am. Every morning I ignore her knocks.  Figuring that I am not there, she eventually opens the door only to be rebuffed by the latch and foiled again. 

     I turn over in bed, relieved. And once again grateful for that latch.  

     See, I not only did not grow up with a latch, I didn't grow up with locked doors

    Like, at all. 

    My parents live on 21 acres of lush Pennsylvania land; the nearest town consists of a gas station and a candy shop. We were maybe in danger of a stray cat wandering onto our porch. Maybe. And usually our cats took care of it.  

    So accordingly, my parents did not lock the doors. I didn't even grow up with keys. At least, not for doors, anyway.   

    My friends sometimes make fun of me for how bad I am at unlocking doors. They shouldn't do this, though. It's like making fun of the Mungo Man for not knowing how to operate an iphone. He didn't grow up with one, so leave him alone. In fact, since he has been dead for quite some time now, you really shouldn't speak any ill of him at all.

   For shame. Making fun of the poor, dead Mungo Man like that.  

   But yes, I really like this latch. And since we didn't use keys while I was growing up, a latch would have come in handy. 

   Particularly because our house was right next to the church that my parents pastor. And because it was so close, I think some parishioners just thought of it as an extension of the church. Not a home that might just host some people who wanted some semblance of privacy--nope, nothing like that.

  As a little girl I got really good really fast at hiding in my own home. I knew all the quick spots to dart when I first heard a knock at the door. Many times that knock would only precede the sound of the screen door opening and then the dreaded sound of a voice--usually one of my parents' counselees--yelling for one or both of my parents, asking if they are home, asking if they minded if who-ever-it-was-this-time just came on in.  

   Wish they had asked me. I did mind.

  And then a lot of times they would just walk right in. And I would be hiding behind the staircase. Or in my room. Or in the bathroom. Or around the hallway, just hoping that they didn't venture further into the house and--horror of horrors!-catch me cowering there, hiding from well, them

   Gosh, a latch would have been nice. 

  One time I remember a man from our church had come to the door and I ran quick as I could to the safety of my bedroom. He knocked. I hid. He knocked. I hid. And we continued in this holding pattern of what was perhaps the most boring and uneventful battle that was ever waged for quite some time. 

  The knocking stopped, I realized with the sense of relief that comes after having bested someone. I outlasted his knocking. Phew. But then...I felt a shadow, something was obstructing my view of the sun...

  And with a sinking feeling, I realized that I was not the winner of this repartee after all. For there the man stood, outside of my window, after having peered through all of the windows from our kitchen until my room and finally landed at mine.

  And I just sat there, looking guilty as sin.  

   I stood up from my crouch with as much dignity as I could muster and graciously motioned for him to walk around, that I would meet him at the front door. I would at least wave my white flag with the respect of having fought my hardest. 

  I would take it like a woman; I would meet him at the front door, on my terms. 

  I tried to pretend like I hadn't heard his tenacious knocks, but I think he knew. My bedroom was not very far from the front door, let's be honest. There was no music playing that would have drowned it out, no loud conversation, no distractions that could act as my alibi.  

  I was found out, plain and simple. My only comfort is that at least I wasn't an adult and so maybe he attributed my overt act of ignoring him to my youth. But I still don't think that what I did was wrong, necessarily; it was a method of survival in the midst of some loiterers who had suspiciously shoddy boundaries. 

  Which is probably why they were in counseling in the first place. 

  Which is probably why they came looking for my pop who had probably forgotten about the appointment...And finding me hiding from them might not have helped whatever had driven them to get counseling in the first place...

  Now that I think about it, that latch wouldn't have helped that particular situation. But I sure do like it. Especially in the morning, when it comes to keeping out the maid.  

16 comments:

The Husband said...

Don't they have "Do Not Disturb" hangy things where you stay, babe?

peaj said...

The arrangement of the house is such that those that knock have no confidence that their knocks will be heard by any inside. Somebody needed to invest in a robust doorbell long ago. Would have saved little kids some cowering sessions.

Well, that, and a notice that "counseling sessions happen at the church."

Interesting theological question: Will you be rewarded for enduring the invasion of your privacy by the brethren?

mom said...

A door bell may have helped with some people, but honestly, most people don't knock and just walk right in. I've had people who are looking for some needed kitchen gadgets for some church event and they walk right into my kitchen, open drawers, and take my stuff! At one point, it got so bad that we put a chain over our deck entrances.

But it's not bad now that the church building is farther away. The new people don't see our home as an extension of the church.

I hope the wounds heal, Jess!

jason said...

A doorbell wouldn't have helped. People would have just kept ringing that instead of knocking. Then they would have walked in regardless.

Even on Christmas!

Emily said...

I remember feeling uncomfortable on behalf of your family when I saw people walk right in, thinking "really?"! How could they feel so entitled? I would have hidden too, as an introvert who values alone time!

Pop said...

And explain again please the logic of the strategy that when we parents were away and you kids thought you heard intruders, you would turn on every light in the house? Do I remember this right? I guess that strategy and others to ward off invaders worked because no evildoer ever successful invaded the well-lit fortress!

Jessica Latshaw said...

Emily--thank you for the compassion! The truth is that I would have done almost anything to avoid an awkward encounter...;-)

And pop--I don't think I remember that strategy--perhaps some of the other sibs remember that? It certainly wouldn't have helped with my plan of pretending that nobody was home!

And yes--the doorbell wouldn't have done much, I am afraid.

Jessica Latshaw said...

And Drew--I always forget to use the do not disturb magnet that is provided.

Well it isn't so much that as if I DO use it, I forget to take it down when I leave and then they don't make my bed...

joshua Latshaw said...

it was always so awkward, especially with those huge glass doors that everyone peered through. People would not only know endlessly, generally if they saw you they would come on in, plop on the couch, and attempt small talk, sometimes changing the channel. they would often be there for hours, asking where pop was? it was awful. I still get sick to my stomach when the phone rings....

Jessica Latshaw said...

Yes we are all very phone shy and tend to shudder at the sound of a knock at the door and really, can you blame us?!?!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess-

Happened upon your blog this evening. How are you?

Your post made me laugh. Having grown up as a "PK" I totally understand the lack of privacy that it entails. Fortunately our church wasn't within walking distance to our house. Unfortunately, everyone in the congregation had a car!

I can't tell you how many times I'd walk out of the bathroom in a towel only to encounter someone I was not expecting on the way to my room.

Aaahhh...memories. Hope you're doing well.

Shannon

Jessica Latshaw said...

Hi Shannon--

thanks for stopping by! And yes, we PK's could certainly have some stories to swap. Luckily, I never had to greet an unexpected guest in a towel, but I know that at least one of my brothers did...

kathiek said...

I love how you just sort of throw in, "Which is probably why they came looking for my pop who had probably forgotten about the appointment"...I have to admit I may have snickered, just a little bit, since I have been one of those forgotten on several occasions!

Your post did make me search my memory banks, however! I hope I wasn't one of those who just walked right in...I don't think I was!

Jessica Latshaw said...

No, Kathie--I have no memory of you ever just walking right in--or hiding from you, for that matter!

And don't feel bad about pop forgetting his apt with you--he has forgotten each of us kids on at least one occasion!

Jenna Latshaw said...

seriously it's so annoying/rude how people feel like they can just come over to the house whenever they want. there's nothing worse then having to be trapped in your room b/c someone has come over for a random counseling session w/ mom or pop. one time i was getting out of the shower and some guy just walked in the house yelling for mom or pop. i ran to my room and hid and was SO annoyed.

jess said...

Yep, jen-i feel you. Like I said, a latch would have been in order.