The night I counted the Costa locking myself out…

18 Dec

It still counts as just about my most embarrassing moment in Spain. I’d been in my villa near Guardamar just a few months when I managed to lock myself out.

OK, most of us have done it – but in light of what developed afterwards I am beginning to wonder if there was something a little, shall we say, unusual about the way I had to pay through the nose for the privilege of getting through my own front door.

My daughter and son in law and their three kids were staying with me at the time and everything seemed d wonderful when we arrived home late on a balmy summer’s night. Until I attempted to open the front door, that is.

Like most of the houses around me, when one closes the door from the outside, the lock triggers and you need a key to get back in. Anyway, when this particular fool went out, surrounded  by her babbling family entourage, she failed to realise that her house key was not in her handbag – but dangling on the inside of the front door.

One locked door and seemingly no way back in. And one stupid woman who, not realising that the key needed to be turned  three times in the lock to fully operate the security mechanism, went out for the evening leaving her home wide open to burglars.

Thankfully, those flimsy defences were not penetrated while we were out but when my entourage and I returned in the early hours of the morning, mass panic quickly broke out in the deserted neighbourhood. I needed a locksmith – but where on earth would I find one at 1.30am? I knew there was one living on the urbanisation, but where on earth would I start looking for him among 500 or more houses?

I got into my car and – more in hope than expectation – began to drive panic-striken around the estate.Then, glory be, a glimmer of hope – I saw the lights of a Guardia Civil jeep heading towards me. I immediately stopped the car, got out and flagged down the Guillermo Viejo (well, how else do you say Old Bill in Spanish?!).

With my limited Spanish and some mega-talking with my hands, I managed to explain to the two Guardia officers in the jeep that I had locked myself out. They duly followed me back to my house, negotiated the entourage of family members hovering on the patio, and proceeded to twiddle with the front door lock.

”Necesita un cerrajero,” they advised me, introducing me to a word I have never forgotten – the Spanish for locksmith. Cue more Anglo-Spanish pidgin talk and sign language and an offer to call out a locksmith for me.but it would not be cheap.
 

What could I do? Half an hour later, a locksmith arrived from Torrevieja, took one look at the door, pulled out what seemed to be a credit card, slid it down the frame of the door and CLICK, we were in.

Total time to get into the house – four seconds. Quicker than using a key. The cost? Precisely 100 euros.enough to make even John Terry consider changing his £175,000-a-week profession. (Not that I’d ever let him within 100 miles of my house, of course – and particularly my daughter!).

I made a costly mistake and I deservedly had to pay for it. Since then, I’ve learnt how to do the credit card trick myself and would strongly advise anyone else with a self-locking front door to make sure they ALWAYS ensure the security mechanism is fully operative when they go out.

But I often ask myself one little question.. Were those two Guardia Civil officers so naive as not to know the ‘credit card’ trick themselves? And if they did, why was it necessary for them to call out a cerrajero at all? Anyway, Guillermo Viejo and his friends are welcome to give me a call if they’d like some basic lessons in housebreaking!

You can read more of Donna’s tales and grumps at http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/donnagee.aspx and also at http://www.donnagee.blogspot.com

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One Response to “The night I counted the Costa locking myself out…”

  1. Ray December 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Donna,glad that you learned from your experience-unlike us when we moved from our rambling, open to the world victorian farm house, to a lincolnshire bungalow that puts Fort Knox to shame with it’s locks ,alarms and bunches of keys.
    Moving day can only be described as one of those that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy (due to our worst enemy at the time-our buyers-trying a last minute knock down on the price)
    Our removals team left at 8pm , and we started shuffling boxes from room to room before we became tired and emotional and gave in at about 9pm and decided to go out for a meal.
    Just about to exit the driveway in the truck when my partner declares that we can’t go out looking like a couple of tramps who’ve just finished a shift at the pit.
    Out come the massive bunch of keys as we decided on a quick wash and change of clothes–it was a pity that the keys were all the same conservatory door keys-and that left the back door lock and alarm to be negotiated.
    We gave up and found a B&B to spend the night, and luckily the owner contacted a builder who lived in the street next to ours. We met at 10 the next morning, and I guess it took him maybe a minute to take out the bathroom window, turn off the alarm and open the front door for us!
    This came in very useful because we just can’t get used to toting massive bunches of keys with us whenever we go out, and our last lockout took place on Sunday 19th-just as we were going christmas shopping. I decided to nip back indoors to grab a broom to sweep some snow away from the doorstep–and the door blew shut.
    It took me an hour with some tools borrowed from a neighbour–but I managed to copy what the builder had done and took the window out.
    So, I’m now thinking about boosting my income with a few night time bank jobs–I can use the cash to pay for all the spare keys that we’ve had cut and distributed to the neighbours “just in case”

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