Saturday, March 26, 2016

Finding Another Way

Friends, It has been a long, long time since I posted. I won't go into any details, but I was simply out there "Free Fallin" and now I'm back. Maybe one day, I'll fill you in, but for now, I'd rather simply pick up from here like good friends do. 

With three days of bed rest for a pesky virus behind me, today I was on my way out back to feeling human again. For three long days  I'd been good as gold and did absolutely nothing. (Just checked my UP wristband - 250 steps or less per day, baby! I nailed doing nothing like a champ!). I knew I couldn't do too much, but the need to accomplish something returned with a vengeance. I took that as a good sign.

So I crawled off the sofa, turned off the TV and  unloaded the dishwasher. The minimal effort didn't send me running for the Motrin so I decided it was safe to take on another light task. 

Mind you, changing the sheets or washing a load of clothes might have been more productive, but I didn't want to waste my precious low energy stores on anything that mundane. I needed a challenge, but...

...on a People Magazine crossword puzzle difficulty level - nothing too mentally taxing. 

...definitely nothing visually taxing. The headache behind my eyes was subsiding, but checking email felt like looking into oncoming headlights.

...absolutely nothing physically challenging either. Up until today a single flight of stairs bumped my heart rate into my anaerobic zone.

...So I chose to unlock the roll top desk.  How's that a challenge? 
Saturday, in preparation for a party, I closed the top of the antique roll top desk to hide just a few unfinished projects and stray Christmas decorations. I had no idea the old curmudgeon locked automatically when you rolled the top down. Had I known, I would have removed the only key from the hidden compartment inside the desk top. As I said, I did not know and now i had no key.

I started with a pretty obvious Google search - "How to pick the lock on an antique roll top desk."

As I paged through the copious search results I was pleased to discover I was not an idiot - at least not the only idiot who'd locked the keys to a roll top desk inside the roll top desk. After I watched a few lame videos and learned a bunch about antique skeleton keys, I found a few posts on message boards describing how to pick a roll top desk lock.

I'm no stranger to internet malarky and Pinterest poppycock, but I tend to forget how vague people can be when posting about their field of expertise or interest. And I quote... "All you need is two paper clips and needle nosed pliers" What size paper clip? There are several you know. I straightened out the paper clips as instructed... easy enough, but come on.... "Bend 1/4 or 1/3 of the end of the wire to look like an "L"...."Bend the extreme end of the other paper clip to look like a dental tool." Are you serious? My dentist has a 
tray full of different tools and 1/4 OR 1/3 is not an instruction. These ares choices I was not qualified to make.

But a gave lock picking a try and failed miserably... several times ....but my determination or will to persevere was stronger than my need to take a nap.

I was determined to find another way! 

So, I browsed even more message board threads on "Unlocking a roll top desk" and discovered this is kind of a thing... not a Twitter #trending kind of thing, but a real thing. Many antique roll top desks were designed to spontaneously lock when closed. Who knew? Obviously, not the people asking as far back as 2011 or me.

Finally, I followed a thread commented on by "Mikk" (a Brit with real issues about Americans' dismissive online manners) who had a rather novel solution. In-between 2 posts calling out "Linda" for rudely banishing any hope of picking the lock and advocating for a locksmith, he shared a little known secret about antique roll top desks. Mikk explained locking the key inside was also an issue in the 19th century, so most roll top desk locks were built with another way in... to allow the owner access if the lock failed or the key is misplaced. According to Mikk all I had to do was remove the center drawer and equipped with 2 flat head screwdrivers and 3 hands, manually manipulate the lock's latch flanges from a carved out access slot directly under the lock. 

I'd discovered another way! 

Good thing I kinda know what a flange is, or I do now, cuz with renewed energy, I slid myself up into the knee space like a mechanic rolling under a car. There it was! Through a carved out slot I could see the bottom of the lock's latch with a flange peeking out on each side.

Armed with a flathead screwdriver in each hand and one foot, (I didn't have 3 hands available, so I improvised!) I pushed the two flanges back into the latch, inserted my big toe into the roll top desk's handle and pushed up with my foot. The top glided opened.

I took a moment to reveled in a burst of joy, pride and burst of energy as I marveled at my own cleverness and tenacity. 

Finding another way to accomplish my first challenge after several days of accomplishing nothing at all felt even better.

Go Ahead - Google it!