8 years old. That's how old I was when I picked my first lock. Now before you start waving the "B.S." signs around, let me explain. My parents bowled on a league back in those days, I believe it was on Sunday night. This bowling alley had an isolated area (that I believe at one time was their pro shop) that was set up as an arcade. So every week I'd get my $2 allowance and feed it into these machines. After that 20 minutes had passed I'd have absolutely nothing to do for the remaining 3 hours or so.
So one day while I was home watching some movie on satellite (courtesy of a 12' Dark Star dish) I witness something miraculous to my 8-year-old eyes. I saw this guy get two bobby pins from the woman he was with, jam them into the lock of the door they were trying to get into, turn one while jiggling the other around a little bit and viola! It just mysteriously popped open. My 8-year-old mind was fascinated with this... Just jam a bobby pin into a lock and jiggle it and you can get in any door you want! It was like I had discovered the secret to the universe! Actually, in my mind, I had just taken the Super Spy Lock Pickinator Secret CIA Correspondence Course.
I promptly went and asked my mom for bobby pins, to which of course she asked me why. After explaining I was going to jam them into the lock on our front door to open it she quickly told me no and forbid me to do so. "But mom!!! This is the final test of my Super Spy Lock Pickinator Secret CIA Correspondence Course! If I don't pass this test how can I graduate?" Mom's just don't understand...
Now back to this bowling alley I told you about... The following Sunday while my parents were bowling, I was sitting against the wall of this room that was the arcade with nothing to do having already spent my allowance. Another boy probably 9 years old was sitting beside me. I saw him there every now and then. Suddenly my eyes went up to the foosball table in the middle of the floor. More precisely they went to the small silver circle emblazoned on a small door at the bottom of the table just under the coin slot.
Yes... I know... I know... You'll be happy to know this was the first and ONLY time I ever picked a lock with malicious intent. I was 8... Cut me a break...
So anyway, the idea formed in my head. I could "pick" this lock, get a couple dollars worth of quarters out of it which I could then feed back into the very same table giving my friend and I something to do. You see, I didn't have any more money anyway. So they weren't LOSING money. At the same time, the table didn't even use any electric, so I perfectly justified to myself that this fell within the acceptable ethics level I was comfortable with. I was pretty sure the boys in the CIA would give me approval for my mission.
But I needed two bobby pins! I explained to my friend that I was a Super Spy Lock Pickinator Secret CIA Genius that could open any lock at will if only I had two bobby pins. He went on his mission and soon came back, but not with bobby pins. Instead, he handed me two paper clips as he explained that was all he could find.
No worries! You don't get to be a Super Spy Lock Pickinator Secret CIA Genius by not being able to work with what's available. I unfolded the paper clips a little and shoved them into the keyhole and went to work...
The seconds then minutes ticked by and that lock didn't budge. I jiggled and jiggled and nothing was happening. I looked at my friend and saw the look of dismay on his face as he began doubting I was truly a Super Spy Lock Pickinator Secret CIA Genius. For a moment I think he was starting to wonder if I had just seen some stupid tv show and hadn't really taken the CIA correspondence course.
I, of course, had NO idea what I was doing. I had no concept of how a lock even worked. I had no clue about shear lines, top pins or bottom pins, wafers, tension or anything else... I was literally just poking around in there expecting it to just pop itself open.
The crazy part is, somehow miraculously that's exactly what happened. The core rotated ever so slightly, much to my amazement. I didn't really expect this to work I suppose. I quickly turned the core the rest of the way around and the door fell open. A rush of excitement came over me. I did it! I really and truly did it!!! I had no idea what I had done, and would probably never be able to do it again, but I did it! Woot! I truly was a Super Secret Spy Lock Pickinator CIA Genius!
Then reality sunk in. As I slid the drawer open to get ready to get a few quarters out my "friend" jammed both hands into the box which flung from my hands and dumped quarters all over the floor. It seemed he didn't share the same ethics I did. He grabbed at them like a rabid soccer mom after that last "greatest toy ever" on black Friday. He was shoving them in his pockets as I continued to scream at him to stop. He obviously didn't share my ideal of "being fair" and only using them to play a few free games. After he stuffed his pockets he ran out and left me at the scene of the crime. Here I am sitting in the middle of the floor, door flung open, quarters scattered here and there across the floor. My heart fluttered with fear. I was sure at this point the cops were already on their way. They were going to walk around the corner at any moment, put me in handcuffs and shackles and lead me away forever. I had only just begun my life and now I had only moments until it was all over. I picked up the remaining quarters and got them back into the tray. Slid it back into place and closed it back up. I then left the scene of the crime wondering how long it would take them to review the security footage that would doom me to no possibility of parole.
I sat by my parents the rest of the night, thinking I'd spend my last few moments with them. When it was finally time to leave I felt a small amount of relief, though each new day of the following week I awoke just knowing it would be my last.
Eventually, I realized I had somehow gotten away with it. The fear subsided and that's when the excitement set in. I had done it... I had really and truly done it... I never tried again though... Not for many many many years...
I believe I was 19 just about to turn 20 going to college in Columbus, OH when I managed to lock my keys in my car. I was the guy who would invite friends over, ask them to sit on the couch and then leave so I could dig through the cushions to scrape up any spare change that might have fallen out. I was a poor college kid, so paying "thousands of dollars" (as I imagined in my head) to a locksmith to come open my car for me was out of the question. The other set of keys was 600 miles away, so that was out of the question as well.
Suddenly I flashed back to that foosball table. I hadn't thought about it for years. I did it once maybe I could do it again? But I was older and wiser now. I knew that was pure luck. I couldn't just jam a paper clip or bobby pin into this lock and wiggle it around and expect it to open. I needed an education. I needed to understand more about these things and what exactly I was doing.
So of course, I turned to the internet. Now this was 1995. The internet was a whole different animal back then. But I quickly located a text copy of "The Poor Man's James Bond" or some other such book. Anyway, whatever it was, it had a sizable section on "Lock Picking". I spent half the day reading and absorbing all the information it contained. Once finished I felt ready to accomplish the feat. But I needed tools. Fortunately, it also contained a bit on how to make these yourself. A hammer, flat file, coat hanger and about 4 hours of work provided me everything I needed. Well, that and a whole lot of sweat!
When I was finished I headed outside. How I didn't get arrested I have no idea. I'm sitting out there in this parking lot beside my car trying to pick the lock as occasional people would pass by. Sure they lived in the same apartment complex, but I didn't know these people, had never seen them before so they couldn't have known me. Still, I managed to keep myself out of prison for the second time.
The minutes ticked by and I grew weary. I was pretty much ready to give up. I had been at it for probably almost 2 hours. I was freezing cold and starting to realize this just wasn't working. Then *click*
The core turned and I was IN!!! I had done it again! There it was... That rush... That excitement... Yet my mission was accomplished and I quickly put it behind me. I threw away my "tools" (I REALLY wish I had kept them just as a memento) and carried on with life.
Several years later I was at work at a remote site with a locked rack and no key in sight. We had to get into these machines, but alas the only way in was to once again pick a lock. I figured it was worth a shot, so I grabbed a paper clip and a small straight screwdriver to use as a tensioner. This time went much quicker and easier (no doubt a result of a much crappier lock) and soon all 4 wafers were set and the lock rolled open. WOOT WOOT! There was that feeling again... That rush... Wow... I forgot about that rush...
And then the moment passed.... Until maybe a year later when a server was locked (physically on the front cover) and since it was from a business we recently purchased we had no key. Once again I found myself holding a screwdriver and a paper clip. And once again I quickly found and set them. *click* *click* *click* *click* RUSH!!!!!
This time I recognized it. This time I listened to it. That feeling as that core turns... It's exciting... It's an awesome feeling! Why can't I do this just for fun? So that's exactly what I decided to do. I learned as much as I could, and still am learning as I guess we all are.
And still, there's one consistency throughout all this time... One thing that never changes... Be it a stupid little master lock or something chock full of security pins, every time I hear that little *click* as the core starts to turn my heart still skips a beat. It's the one constant... A tiny little adrenaline rush that comes with saying, "I just did something I'm not supposed to be able to do... "