Years ago, I rented a little house with my former college roommate, D. Shortly after we moved in, we very quickly discovered that the front door had not been hung correctly, and so unless you threw the lock, it would not stay shut. The slightest puff of wind would swing the door open – usually with just enough creaking that if one of us was in the front room, we'd hear it and dive for the opening to close it before the cats ran outside.
It didn't take long until we were both well-trained to lock that door the instant we walked through it. It became such a habit that we never gave it much thought at all after the first few months. The door had to be locked. That was the way it was.
Fast-forward a few years. She moved out and I remained in the house, living by myself. One night I came home from school and headed toward the back of the house to check my email. A few hours later, once it was dark outside, I decided it was time for dinner, and headed toward the front of the house where the kitchen was located. Imagine my surprise and horror when I heard the creak of the door and saw it swinging slowly open, back and forth, where it had obviously been open for several hours.
I dashed for the door and swung it open, at which point two of my cats walked *in* the door. Considering that even then all the cats were indoor-only, this meant that not only had they both gotten outside; they had been outside long enough to now want to come back inside. In a panic I scooped them up and tossed them inside and then spent a rather terrified fifteen minutes tearing around the house doing a head count. Luckily they were the only two who'd thought to go adventuring (or perhaps the others had merely come back earlier – I'll never know). But it scared the heck out of me. The house backed onto a fairly major road where a lot of traffic zipped by at high speeds, such that every day as I drove that road to or from work or school, there were always at least one or two new dead animal bodies on the side. And at least it was only the cats I had to worry about – the neighborhood (while not the best) was at least safe enough that I hadn't had to worry about a stranger walking in.
Ever since then I've been probably just a bit paranoid about doors. It doesn't matter if I was the one to turn the latch; I will check to make sure that the front door is locked every time we leave the house. Every time I walk by the back door I automatically reach out to test that the deadbolt is thrown, even if neither of us has gone outside. Even in hotel rooms I will always use the extra lock, just in case.
This has been an AlphaBytes entry.