I had a couple of safes to open a little while back. One was an elderly Chubb and the other was a more recent Dudley. Both were key locks. Safes are divided roughly 60:40 in the UK between key locks and combination locks whereas in the States they’re nearly all combination locks. Of course, key locks are much more difficult for the safe engineer to open. Anyway, these two need different techniques so I started with the one that needed the venerable Hobbs pick. (I’ll come back to Mr Hobbs another day in another post.)
First you get as comfortable as you can. Other locksmiths poke fun at my collapsible chairs but hey. Then you get acquainted with the levers — seven in this case. You’re doing a couple of things here but it’s quite repetitious. You either get bored on unlucky days or you enter a Zen-like altered state on lucky days. This was a lucky day.
I wasn’t aware of it — that’s the point — but after five minutes there was almost nothing in my mind except a growing picture of my friends the levers. What I was also unaware of was that the lights had gone out; this was a basement of a delicatessen undergoing refurbishment and they’d cut the power to install some board or other and they’d told everyone but me.
So there I was in a gloomy corner, dressed in black (good for the image), forehead resting on a safe door, making no noise except for the occasional and pleasing click of a tumbler; and there was the electrics board that was about to be replaced, above my head. The electrician walked in pointing her torch high up at the board. I wouldn’t have heard her even if she’d been wearing wooden clogs.
I think we both screamed. I certainly lost all the levers.
Still, I don’t normally need meditation classes.