You know our front door? The one with the lock that’s become increasingly stubborn over the last, oh, half decade? My key is the only one that works consistently (if grudgingly) in it, a source of absolutely irrational and unearned pride on my part. Rachel’s key works only if you get it in the exact right spot, and then it feels like you’re grinding sand to open the door.
When Rob came to stay with the kids while Rachel and I went to Chicago, his key didn’t work at all. This was slightly concerning to him, but by then we had just kind of accepted that the door didn’t work and that was just the way things were and that getting through our own front door would be an endless struggle forever and ever amen. “You could try some WD-40,” Rachel told him as she left for the airport. “Or just call a locksmith if it gets really bad and get them to replace it.”
Rob texted us in Chicago to say that a shot of WD-40 had done the trick. When I got home, it was amazing: my key turned in my OWN FRONT DOOR like butter. Like silk. Like buttered silk soaked in extra-virgin, coldpressed olive oil. Smooth, is what I’m saying.
I hate this. I hate it when I let something in my life get so far gone with the idea that it will just always be this way. I hate that I tolerate things that could be fixed so easily. Like the fact that it took, say, a couple of months to finally put the new battery in the smoke detector, and then two more weeks to actually put the cover back on the smoke detector. Or the three burnt-out outlets in the kitchen backsplash: Rachel and I just unplug the kettle now to plug in the toaster because calling an electrician is Just So Hard. I hate how I put off appointments when I could really use a massage or a haircut; the piles of books that would really take five minutes to put away but that I instead walk by a dozen times a day.
I don’t want to be hard on myself. I get plenty done, meet all the deadlines, participate pretty fully in the co-running of this household and co-parenting of these children. The meals, they are regular and home cooked. The house is reasonably tidy. The recycling goes out. I get to the gym. And it’s not like we have to navigate between the piles of newspapers to get to the bathroom or anything. Mostly, things run well in this home, in my work, in this life. And that’s a good thing.
But the lock is a reminder: it’s almost always worth taking that tiny bit of extra effort to make things smoother.
Also: WD-40 fixes almost anything.