Day 008 – How does this thing work?

I spent an hour or so this rainy morning trying to unlock the drawer in an old escritoire. The key in the top compartment (unlocked) was clearly marked “key to desk in bedroom will lock but not unlock” and yet somehow someone had thought it a good idea to lock the drawer. We’ve already made several attempts to open it with other keys, hairpins, wire, screwdrivers and credit cards but without success. We even talked over our predicament at a Labor Day lunch with friends and got several ideas we tried out as soon as we got home. Nothing.

Today I looked at the weather and I looked at my to-do list (“answer e-mail” and “update LinkedIn profile”), and I decided to try the drawer again. After revisiting the same old things, I suddenly realized that I could unscrew and remove for inspection the lock in the upper (open) section. No sooner thought than done, and I was happily playing with it, trying to figure out how it worked, thinking that if I could I might be able to open the lower drawer. I was swept up in the absorbing curiosity of “How does this thing work?” and thinking how pleased my father, who often got caught up in that kind of curiosity, would be to see it.

Well, the drawer is still locked. Curiosity is not always enough to unlock all the answers (and my working definition of curiosity includes, you may remember, the aspect of not needing to influence the outcome), but I was stimulated by the search and ultimately impressed with the quality of the lock on this inexpensive desk my mother as a newlywed bought secondhand at a yard sale.

All is not lost, though. Removing the lock from the upper section made it possible to see who manufactured it—the National Lock Company (NLC), still in business but now known as CompX National – CompX International Inc. We found a site where for $2.55 a piece you can order skeleton keys for those old furniture locks. We hope to get into the drawer in a few days without a hammer, saw, chisel, jeweler, or locksmith. I’ll keep you posted.

The journey really can take us places we didn’t expect. 😉

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