It's never as easy as it seems

Today’s project was pretty straightforward — replace some interior locksets. This is a very simple task, one which even a dexterity-challenged individual like myself can do in five minutes, as I proved several times today.

The first time took a bit longer, since I was so eager to get right to the task that I didn’t take a minute to figure out how to get the old knob off (the screws were hidden by an escutcheon, which I could pry loose but couldn’t get past the knob). So I spent about 15 minutes using a screwdriver at an 80-degree angle to the screw, moving it very slowly and tearing the slot apart in the process. Finally, I reached the point at which I’d done so much damage to the slot that I couldn’t make any more progress — at this point, I realized that there had to be a better way.

So I looked at the knob and found the little release tab (which I’d seen right at the beginning, but for some reason didn’t think was significant) and pushed it with the screwdriver — it went in and the knob came off, but because the knob was no longer supported, the screwdriver kept moving and I had to go find some Band-Aids.

After that, it was easy; well, except when I decided to make sure that the latch would fit in the strike — before putting the knob on. It did fit; it took me a few minutes to figure out how to open the latch by hand so I could get out of the room again.

But after that, I knew what to do and what not to do, and I did the next two rooms in under five minutes each. So, on our way back from Side Man (about which more anon), we stopped at Homeowner’s Hell…err, Home Depot…to get more locksets for some other rooms.

And when I got home, I looked at the label on the new locksets, which showed the outside lever curving up and then down — and I looked at the three doors I’d already done, and realized that two of them were right, but one was the other way. And I couldn’t figure out how that could be, so I took a closer look. And discovered that I had a mutant lockset on the bathroom door — the inside was right, but the outside was not only the wrong way, but lacked the emergency unlocking mechanism! In other words, some previous customer had returned the lockset I’d bought, but not before mixing up the parts of two non-matching ones.

At least I discovered the problem before accidentally locking the bathroom from the outside — and I got more practice in installing locksets than I’d planned. And there wasn’t even a line at the returns counter at Home Depot, much to my surprise.

So at this point, I’m out of locksets (for some reason, the kind we want is in short supply — if we wanted a bright brass finish instead of antique brass, we’d be all set; sometimes it’s a pain to have different tastes than the majority), but there are still two or three Home Depots yet to try (the other big local hardware chain, OSH, doesn’t carry antique brass in this design at all).

And after all, it is just a five minute project.

Side Man

In between my hardware adventures, we saw Side Man at San Jose Rep. I highly recommend it.

Like many interesting plays, this one is the story of a dysfunctional family — the son is the narrator, and he wanders around in time from 1985 to 1953 and back, showing us scenes from his parents’ lives. His father is a jazz trumpet player, a side man; his mother wanted to be a flutist but got sidetracked to the bottle.

For further details, go see the play!