When I moved away after high school, my best friend’s parents gave me a key to their house. It was kind of a joke, kind of a symbol to tell me that I was welcome to visit any time. The joke part comes in because they never locked their door. Having a key was really irrelevant, but they wanted me to know that I could get into the house if they ever accidentally locked the door, too.
That’s certainly one kind of open door policy. Then there are offices where people make a point of encouraging other people to stop by. I try to do that, even though my office is far away from everything in the library. Except for the bookmobile office. I can socialize with the bookmobile staff any time they aren’t out delivering books to the people of Virginia.
Then there’s another kind of open door altogether.
I woke up this morning and stumbled downstairs to get shoes and such for my morning dog walk. Something seemed off, but I’m not all that coherent first thing in the morning. Then as I got Peanut’s leash, I realized that my front door was wide open. Not cracked open or halfway open, but entirely open.
I have an old house, and my old house has an old door latch system. There isn’t actually anything to keep the door closed except for the lock. If I forget to lock up, a decent breeze is all it takes to open the door.
My first thought was to look around and make sure there wasn’t anybody creeping around the house. I didn’t look all that carefully, because everything seemed to be the way it was the night before, with the exception of a few extra leaves in the living room and some serious humidity issues.
After that half second of panic, I was pretty happy. That could have been bad. In addition to general relief that I wasn’t robbed or anything, I was glad that my dog likes to snuggle up next to me in bed more than he likes to explore strange things going on around the house. If he had known that his ticket to freedom was waiting for him one staircase away (probably for several hours), he would have been long gone when I woke up at 6:40 this morning. Ten extra minutes in bed or a lifetime of chasing squirrels and cats as a free dog. I’m pretty sure I know what he would have picked.
So lesson learned. Closing a door with no dead bolt and no latch isn’t enough. Keys are in fact important at my house.