Don’t check the locks

mystery keys

I cannot be responsible for mistakes made following tips or blogs 😉

A terrible electronic cry screeches out in the middle of the darkness. You barely perceive it as the alarm in your bleariness. Then you realise this is the ungodly hour you set to get up. You walk around in confusion amongst the hive of activity as everyone sticks to the preprepared plan and eventually you make your way out into the darkness and onto the quiet roads.This is the start of your holiday and you’re determined it will be great.

Pushing forward to the airport, an allotted person acts with military efficiency constantly checking passports are in hand, and foreign currency is not left behind. Eventually you are checked in and all sat comfortably waiting, until there is a frown and someone queries: “Did we lock the door?”

Gently, you pull up in the car, smug that for once you have made it, you are on time, great. Meeting your friends all the usual banter begins as you get on with whatever it is you are here for. But then, in the midst of the activity, you hear a voice, cold and dark at the back of your head, it strikes you at the heart with its urgency: “Hello there, is the car locked?”

It’s been a tiring day and finally you have got changed, tidied up, and made your way to bed. You finally collapse and rest. Just as you get comfortable the old friend returns: “Oh hello there, sorry to disturb you, just checking, Is the power off? Is the door locked?” – cock.

I’m sure you’ve done it yourself and I bet you can’t remember many times when you found the door to have been unlocked or the power on. It seems what we’re really doing though is simply trying to gain peace of mind. Knowing for sure allows you to get on with your plans, enjoy the holiday or fall asleep.

The problem is when you go back to check though. This is fine to a certain extent, but it can easily become too much. I’ll just check for sure. I can still check, so I’ll just check again. No harm in making a hat-trick of it, I’ll check once more – this is likely me more than the average reader but I’ll carry on. I have in the past found myself a good half mile from the car, but the temptation to know for sure has induced me into a mini endurance event.

key in lock

Working as a runner in TV, you often find yourself fired questions: Is this ready? Where is this? Is that safe? The best runners can answer instantly with full conviction – and of course be correct. On top of that you are often in charge of the most important part of a whole shoot – the rushes. Having that responsibility often led to me checking locks, bags etc three times at least to be sure, as if I was carrying some secret nuclear device.

The problem is, do it too much and you never rely on your own memory, never trust yourself, and it doesn’t seem too far until you’re constantly checking. The very search for peace of mind has meant you will never have it. You really want peace of mind? Trust yourself, accept the slight doubt, don’t chase that peace of mind. Ultimately in the rare occurrence in which you have cocked up, it’ll probably be alright in the end. What you have gained is peace of mind, by never chasing it. As long as you know you always lock these things, you can trust yourself.

Now is this a piece of wise wisdom from Wise O? Perhaps not, this once happened to me:

It came to the end of a holiday with my brother and his girlfriend. I was scheduled to leave several days before them. When not on holiday I had been staying with them in their flat in London. I went to leave, ensured I had all my belongings and went to the airport. All was so efficient, everything packed neatly, comfortable train, straight to the airport, enough time to sit and enjoy a weird flavored French pizza. I chilled out on a comfy flight back. Sat on the tube I was on my way to the flat and started to think… ah I don’t have the keys. oh … I don’t have the keys. The keys are in France. I’m in London, they are in France –  I have nowhere to sleep.

Thanks to a friend I was not on the street but it led to three days of going into work in a ski jacket, and making do with what I had. So yes, I should have checked if I had the keys.

After this I wanted to check and check again, but decided this was no good so I devised a tip and here it is. It might be rubbish but you are still reading so I shall continue.

A Tip from Wise O

Have you ever left the house or car or some other place that uses a lock, perhaps a cupboard or even a hatch on a deserted island, only to be struck by the thought: “Did I lock it?” Or even did I pack that “thing”. (for example top secret documents, for all you spies out there)

Apparently, when we do something by automation it becomes so automatic that our memories can choose not to record a memory. Thus you can’t remember doing that thing.

So what I do when checking the door is shut is, I imagine something different or special at that time.

For example:

  • I check the door and think: “I can’t open this because…
  • There is a burley man holding the door the other side as I check it’s shut
  • It is glued shut
  • Ants have built a nest so formidable within the locking system it cannot be broken (OK that might be a step too far).

But then this means when you find yourself hearing that dark cold voice, sat in the airport at the start of a holiday, or lying down ready to sleep, you can answer it, yes it is locked, the burley man is holding it shut remember.

By Wise O


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