Hoffman's Houston
are you the key master?

Ken Hoffman discovers a golden Houston key master when he's locked out of his house

Hoffman discovers a golden Houston key master when he's locked out

Hand holding a house key
Few things are worse than getting locked out of the house.  Courtesy photo

This is the kind of luck that usually happens to other people. Last week, I snapped off my house key in my front door lock. I was in a hurry — plus I have the grip strength of 100 men. The end of the key was jammed in the lock pretty good. I tried yanking out the piece with tweezers, no luck. I tried pushing another key in from the other side, nope.

Rats. I’m going to have to call a locksmith, a trade that’s disappearing almost as fast as newspaper columnists. (At least columnists who want to be paid for their work. Thinking I got out just in time.)

I unscrewed the entire front door lock and ran to Home Depot. After hiring a private eye to find a salesperson who could help me, I bought a replacement lock. One look at the back of the package … no way would I be able to install this complicated piece of home security. I had two options, schedule a handyman to come install this lock, or adopt an “open border” policy in my house.

I don’t need a wall, just a door that locks from the inside.

Finding repairs ain't a lock
Or maybe I could find a locksmith who could remove the broken-off key in my lock. It’s pretty hard to find locksmiths these days. Last time I needed one, to fix the lock on my nuclear-powered weenie motor scooter, I had to ride to The Heights and wait a couple of hours for the guy to get back from a house call.  Locksmiths are very busy people. You have to make appointments to see them.

Let's hop on Google and see if I can find a locksmith within 25 miles who can help me today. I can’t have a front door that swings both ways like a wild west saloon. First one I called said, “I don’t know if I can get the old key out of your lock, but I’ll give it a try.”

We'll give it a shot, where are you?

“I’m near the corner of Bellaire Boulevard and Stella Link — do you need directions?”

Huh? I live by the corner of Bellaire Boulevard and Stella Link. I’ve never seen a locksmith there. Where exactly are you?

“The address is 6733 Stella Link in West U. I’m on the second floor of the building behind the Jack in the Box. Do you know where that is?”

Jack in the Box? If you only knew. Uh, yeah, I’m familiar with that dining establishment. The shakes are very underrated. They use real ice cream. Plus, Clownie has a special now: Breakfast Jacks only $1, and they use fresh cracked eggs. I’ll be right over.

A golden fix
I walked (yes, walked) to Golden Locksmith. It’s a small office on the second floor of a building I didn’t know was there. You could drive by it a million times, which I have, and never notice it. When I arrived, the owner said, “That was pretty fast, you must live around here.”

Look out you window, you see that house down the street?

The Golden Locksmith owner, a young guy just starting his own business, dug into his tool kit, took out an instrument that looks like something my dentist uses while lecturing me, and removed the broken off key. “Here, I got it.”

I said thanks, you’ve saved me. How much do I owe you?

He said, “Nah, I’ve only been open a few weeks, just tell your neighbors that I’m here, okay?”

Done. Let’s go to the tote board. Golden Locksmith down the street saved me $100 for a new door lock, and waiting hours or days for a locksmith to come to my house and install it, probably another $100 or more.

I like my new neighbor, plus he doesn’t park his car directly across the street from my driveway — Reason No. 1,288 that I’ve got to run for mayor of West U.


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