Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Dear NYC Young People: You Never, Ever Call an Emergency Locksmith

Sooner or later in many a young person's life, he or she moves to New York City and is then fairly promptly locked out of his or her terrible first apartment late at night. When this happens, you young people should know, the answer is go sleep at a friend's house, or pick up someone in a bar and sleep at their house, or sleep in a park, even if it gets you hassled by a cop and it's 20 degrees out. This is what happens pretty much, without fail, when you call a locksmith at 1 a.m. We're sorry we didn't let you kids know this sooner. (Later we'll tell you about the deli sushi and some other things.)

38 Comments / Post A Comment

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Um, isn't this more about universal sexism than a variety peculiar to the big bad city?

Maybe probably! Although lots of men I have known have had pretty much the same experience. Without the icky over/undertones of men menacing a woman outside her home!

saythatscool (#101)

Yeah reading this made me realize that Brooklyn may not be a %100 safe place for a single, young girl (with absolutely no resources or social safety net) to return home from work in the middle of the night. And here I always thought those ethnic neighborhoods made it so safe.

Oh I gotta go, the wallet inspector's here.

melis (#1,854)

Honestly, what is she thinking, trying to live alone when she's got ovaries and whatnot.

saythatscool (#101)

Yeah, that was my point exactly. Thanks for the summary of my 3 sentences. I know my words can be pretty elusive for others.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Thinking that just having a penis will give you any kind of an advantage in dealing with thugs and cops will get you in a lot more trouble than a tearful walk to an ATM, (suburban, American, white) boys.

Sergio Hernandez (#3,273)

When I got locked out of my terrible first apartment late at night, I just scaled the fire escape and broke into my own apartment's window. I have to admit, it was pretty rad.

C_Webb (#855)

Is she sure he called 911, and not, like, his best friend from high school who happens to be a cop?

IBentMyWookie (#133)

She should request a police report (does it have an accompanying fee in NYC?) get the responding officer's name and badge number and make some sort of report. It may not go anywhere, but at the very least it'll be in his file…NOW TELL US ABOUT THE DELI SUSHI.

garge (#736)

The first thing I do when I move anywhere (or even visit anywhere, because I am crazy) is map out the 24 hour diners. I also keep NoDoze on my person (because I am crazy).

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

A 24-hour diner? In Boston? Where is that, next to the unicorn stable on Lollipop Lane?

garge (#736)

South Street Diner, near South Station :)

garge (#736)

I have also had to read all night in the Prudential Center once, when my building caught on fire. Always have a plan!

riggssm (#760)

And also there is a diner waaaaay down Mass Ave near South Bay, just past Newmarket Sq. Much better food, and not as sketchy as the SSD clientele (though getting there is sometimes sketchy).

zidaane (#373)

This is why I never lock my doors.

MParcells (#375)

Address, please?

MParcells (#375)

Don't worry about your stuff. I just need a place to crash for a while.

brianvan (#149)

The best part is how they claim they "don't send bills" and how the cops enforced that. That definitely gives it the "corrupt banana republic" feel.
Here's another couple of tips for the less-than-streetsmart:
* Never rent an apartment where the super doesn't live within sight of the building.
* Don't accept services from anyone who refuses to provide estimates.
* When an officer threatens to arrest you for something you are very sure isn't illegal, ESPECIALLY when they're a dick about it, call their bluff. You're only risking inconvenience. Jail isn't that bad. They have to release you within 24 hours and they have to have a legal reason. Should they fail to do either, file suit against the city. (Normally I'm not supportive of frivolous torts, but these are basic human rights… this isn't about a stray patch of ice on the sidewalk)
* Even if you're not one to test the cops, lawyer up. Find a pitbull lawyer in advance who will take small cases and will show up for arraignments at a reasonable cost, and write down their phone number on paper to keep in your wallet / on your person at all times. Cheap is ok here, you don't have to use this guy in a trial should it come to that.
* Be OCD about your house keys. It's not cheap to call a locksmith at 2 in the afternoon, either.
* And since we're talking about losing things, keep your passport fully renewed (for God's sake, get one if you don't have it!) in case your driver's license disappears.

zidaane (#373)

Also- never let the whole neighborhood see you get in a cab with some luggage. When you return from your trip, your door will be kicked in and you will have to buy your cable box back from some twelve year olds that come by your place later.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

It seems that leaving the house in the first place leads to all manner of troubles.

djfreshie (#875)

@Brian Van: agree – always always always call a cop's bluff. Unless you're holding. Then, maybe reconsider.

BadUncle (#153)

@brianvan – living in a building with a nearby super kind of rules out huge swaths of Brooklyn.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@BadUncle — What's wrong with ruling out ALL of Brooklyn?

Kakapo (#2,312)

Actually, in NYC, they can hold you a full 72 hours without charging you with anything.

theheckle (#621)

Look, if Fiona Apple gets locked out of her crappy apartment (honey, saving money is important, but please cash some of those checks…if only to buy yourself a sandwich) I will happily fly from Denver to unlock the place for her at no charge.

Getting locked out is not fun.

sunnyciegos (#551)

This happened to me in suburban Silver Spring, Md., right down to the "we don't bill", "we don't give estimates" and "we don't take credit cards." The locksmith confiscated my drivers' license and then followed me to a bank where I then withdrew all the cash I had ($400). I was not as traumatized as the writer but it sure learned me to befriend my neighbors.

deepomega (#1,720)

Same, only it was the middle of the afternoon. Silver Spring: The Brooklyn of Maryland!

I've had two neighbors that were locksmiths so I've been pretty lucky, but I've heard similar stories. Don't think it even matters where you live, unless it's Kansas (hey Pete!), or locksmithing itself. If you're vulnerable, you'll pay. [have broken into my own rental place a few times because of old, shitty locks that stick]

BadUncle (#153)

$163 is about what I paid last year. It's substantially less than I paid in manhattan 20 years ago ($200). However, I've always gotten a receipt. I don't think this is a story of gender-based scamming. Just a predatory, NY industry.

Or do what my neighbor did. Ring your neighbor's (my) doorbell at 4am, desperate because you smoke in the hallway all hours of the day and locked yourself out and don't own a cell phone. Luckily the locksmith we called drove up in a little Smart car with a sign on the side. Still she ended up having to get $400 since I wouldn't lend her my credit card (she asked).

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I was once woken up by a friend at 3am and had to go and fetch her from in front of her door in my clothes, after she got locked out in her jammies. Locksmiths are not your friends (and neither are the cops), your friends are your friends!

And tanks for calling us "young people", Chiore!

petejayhawk (#1,249)

My dumbass roommate locked the garage key in the garage last year. Locksmith charged us $60. Sometimes living out in flyover country ain't so bad. Also, we have a garage.

whateverlolawants (#19,108)

@petejayhawk Yes, I was wondering how much it costs here in my midwestern city. Those prices are exorbitant! But then again, seeing how towing companies operate around her, I wouldn't be surprised to see it just as expensive here.

belltolls (#184)

This is a great story, but I do not know what I mean by that. It is really cityish.

mishaps (#5,779)

I paid $300+ when it happened to me in Brooklyn. None of the other awfulness though, thank God! This person should so be calling her precinct.

Leave keys with friends, especially friends who are also neighbors. This has saved me twice. (And I am now reminded that I need to get those spare keys back to my friends again.)

Bucky Turco (#9,465)

The key to getting a discount on locksmith services is to tell the guy that you don't like Palestinians and be very pro-Israeli. I'm not kidding nor being snarky. It works!

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Yeeesh. I feel bad for her. But I think anyone living anywhere needs to understand basic apartment maintenance to avoid nonsense like this. You know how she got screwed? When they put in a new cylinder! She should have just had the guy drill out the lock and not do any other work.

Yeah, sleeping without a deadbolt might seem risky, but depending in where the lock is, who you are and who your neighbors are, you should not worry about a cylinder in that case. The next day go to a hardware store you trust or a maintenance guy you trust and find out how much they would charge to install a new lock.

But I also want to says "itemized bill" but then doesn't say what the breakdown was.

I know she's probably stressed (to say the least) but I'd like to know how they fleeced this poor waif.

This is coming from a guy (aka: ME!) who was praised like Moses by neighbors two days ago for fixing the lock on the front door of the building. You know how I did that? 1 measly squirt of WD40 and the problems are gone!

Can't 3rd Ward or some place do some basic apartment maintenance course? Seriously folks need to know this stuff.

AlanWhickers (#232,916)

This is what Google Maps is for. The reviews and stuff. Also, asking for a quote when you call the person.

I hungoveredly paid a guy $80 to pick the lock on my old drywall makeshift bedroom door. He didn't threaten me or call cops or anything, and the amount, while a lot, isn't $612. However, with sobriety and hindsight came the knowledge that the smart move would've been to take a hammer to the drywall.

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