William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 10, June, 2009

Keys To The Kingdom

medeco_key.144100011_stdMy office door was re-keyed recently.  I’m not sure why, but now every time I want to get in my office I have to call Security.  I’m developing quite a nice friendship with the guard, but I know she has better things to do with her time than to let me in.

Now.  I turned in the old key to security.  They receive the old keys and  issue the new keys.  The key shop actually makes the new keys.  I turned in the old key a couple of weeks ago.  You have to turn in the old one to get the new one.  Fine.  I still don’t have my key.  I was informed that I’ve been asking for too many door openings.  Evidently faculty are limited to three lock-outs per semester.  The key shop still has not made my key, it might take another couple of weeks.  These are Medeco, high security keys.  The blanks are cut on a special machine, and it is hard to get all the blanks.  So, you can’t just traipse down to the old hardware store and get a key made.  Plus, the keys are marked “Do not duplicate” but busy clerks sometimes don’t look.  I’m sure there are plenty of blanks in the university key shop, though.

I would also like to point out that I also have Medeco keys on my home.  The last time I needed keys, I went to the locksmith that put them in, and he cut them in a quarter of an hour.  So, to recapitulate, security does not want to open my office again, but I won’t get a key for another month, and the night watch makes sure that the door is locked if I leave it open.  (Frankly, I appreciate the last bit, things do sometimes grow legs and walk away if doors aren’t locked)

This makes sense to the bureaucratic mind.  I don’t posess one, and it seems silly to me.  If I knew where the freaking key shop was, I could go and bring food, which usually greases the skids, but I don’t know where it is.


  1. Having been a locksmith in a former lifetime, I should point out that Medeco has several levels of key control. The lowest level patent expired in the late 80s, and generic blanks have been around since about 1989; those you can get in your local key shop, assuming they have a machine capable of angle cuts and a tech capable of using it intelligently. Some of the later ones are still patent protected, much like brand name medicines, and only Medeco can supply the blanks… and for some levels of key control, such as one of the varieties I sold, you had to swipe a card to authorize copying the key. (This was really progressive for 1990, remember.) If it was an individual who owned it, no problem (unless he’d lost it or thrown it out with the rest of the documentation that he was supposed to have kept), but if it was, e.g., the lock on the vestibule of an apartment house, where the landlord wanted to know how many keys were out there, if a tenant wanted an extra key he’d have to request one from whoever held the card (the building superintendent, usually) who would then come to the shop and get them. Medeco knew how many blanks they sold you and how many copies they’d authorized you to cut, and those two numbers (minus any broken or mis-cut blanks, which had to be sent back) had to equal or they wouldn’t sell you any more blanks. So some of them aren’t so simple to copy…

    The key shop isn’t likely to be in the university directory, but if you happen to see someone wandering the campus in possession of carpenter’s tools or a stepladder, they could probably direct you to the appropriate place. Security probably wouldn’t.

    (Hint: Judicious application of a rubber refrigerator magnet results in an unlocked door that looks locked. Obviously you never leave it this way overnight, but if you’re just stepping out for the pause which refreshes and don’t want to have to alert Security every time, it may prove useful to know.)

    Comment by Shalom (R.Ph.) — Thursday, 11, June, 2009 @ 21:59 | Reply

  2. So, what will your boss(es) do when you show up at work and just sit in the lobby because you cannot get into your office? Particularly, as it is their fault for not getting you new keys in a timely fashion.

    Comment by Judy — Thursday, 11, June, 2009 @ 22:06 | Reply

    • No, it’s the KEY SHOP’S problem, not my superiors. Actually, as Bob has a key, I just borrow his, but he’s on vacation.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Friday, 12, June, 2009 @ 09:06

  3. I disagree, Dr. Z: It is management’s problem. Someone, somewhere in management authorized this clusterflop. Now, it may not be you’re immediate supervisor’s FAULT but it is his PROBLEM to get solved. He should be the first one raising holy heck.

    Sometimes you have to point out absurdity by being absurd. I recommend some late-night or early morning (like 1AM) calls to open your door to get something that “couldn’t wait” until morning. I would think that after about the first one you’d get your key. (Or you’d get fired if they hvae little humor….but hey – livin’ life on the edge is part of the fun too!) Or – move your desk and phone out to the hallway. That might go over 🙂

    H the IH

    Comment by H the IH — Friday, 12, June, 2009 @ 09:45 | Reply

  4. I would be holding court in the Dean’s anteroom until I got a new key 🙂 Betcha if HE/SHE gets involved, the keys shows up rather quickly.

    Comment by Old NFO — Friday, 12, June, 2009 @ 19:40 | Reply

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