Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lock, Stock and Barrel

I was thinking of this phrase when I was having trouble getting a lock to turn.  Actually, it doesn't have anything to do with a lock. Of course, the phrase means "everything" or the totality of something.  It actually refers to parts of a musket.  The lock is the flintlock or the firing mechanism; the stock is the wooden part of the gun; and the barrel is, well, the barrel, down which the musketball travels. If you have a lock, a stock and a barrel you have a complete gun.

Anyhow I was thinking that most of us know how to use locks and keys, really, if you think about it, without any instruction. It's one of those things that you learn by watching.  Keys are a symbol of responsibility and authority. I know the school I worked for was serious about keys.  Every summer we had to turn in our keys and God help us if they weren't the ones we were issued in the fall.  I never lost a key so I don't know exactly what happened to teachers who did, but I understand that it involved a lot of paperwork.

Most of us remember the first time we were given the keys to the family car. There is a representation of freedom and responsibility. Or the keys to our first house. It made the acquisition seem real.

I don't know if you're like me and have about a dozen keys that you have no idea what they got to any more.  I have them on one ring, and I should throw them away, but who knows?  They might fit something I need to get into.

And I think all of use are familiar with the various forms of key jiggling necessary to make a lock work. There's the up and down, the partial withdrawal, the lifting of the key and the depressing of the key.  How we figure out what works is anybody's guess.

Recently we've acquired a couple of cars with fobs, and it's a whole new world. I like this twenty-first century we are living in.  I feel so cool when I press the button and the car locks pop open and it flashes its lights at me.  It's like I accomplished something.  Then of course there's the wrestling match with the steering wheel that we sometimes go through when the key won't turn.  I've known people who have broken keys off in the ignition trying to get them to turn. I'm not strong enough to do that.

Then there are keyless start buttons in cars. I don't expect we'll have one of those for about thirty more years by which time we'll be using it on our Rascals. The start button on cars reminds me of the start button or link on computers. Oddly enough, the start button is also the stop button on computers.  That's a little odd, and maybe material for another blog, another day.


  1. I still haven't gotten the push-botton car. No magical door openings via distance for me!

  2. It's quite a revelation when it does happen...

  3. Be careful Dan. I have owned my car so long that the push buttons on the key fob no longer work. My husband bought me a new one for my birthday last year and they are not cheap.