If you're a fan of tools, techie websites and just generally interesting gadgets, you've probably seen advertisements for a credit card lock pick set. By that I don't mean the old trick of swiping a credit card up and down the door gap until you can jiggle the door locking mechanism open from the side, but the easy and convenient lock pick sets that either fold, snap or sit together in a small, flat, credit-card shaped piece of plastic. A great gift for the handy, nerdy and clever, I bought one for myself to have a bit of fun and maybe show off a bit at a bar. I had no need or interest in picking locks for places I couldn't get in to, and I figured carrying around such a pick would be a bit of a fun challenge. I even used it to pick the door to my own office, desk and apartment just for fun. I had no idea that I'd eventually be doing it for real.
One night I came home late due to some software that had taken forever to compile (I'm a programmer). I went to the exterior door of my apartment and tried my key - to no avail. At first I thought I'd just used the wrong key, but I checked, tried and checked - no good. I wanted to call the landlord but she'd gone home for the night, and as I looked around for an explanation, I saw a sign on the floor that had apparently been taped to the door earlier. It stated that, due to problems with a previous tenant, the exterior doors had been re-keyed, and that new keys were in our mailboxes. Simple, right? Well, I'd left my mailbox key in my kitchen! I so rarely get mail at home (everything is delivered to work) that I only check my mail once every week or so, and since I didn't see the note, I didn't get the new key when I had a chance.
Luckily I had my credit card lock pick set on me. Making sure no one was going to call the cops as I broke into my own building, I slid the credit card lock pick out of my wallet and did what I knew to do. Sure enough, I was able to pick the lock on the exterior door to my building, then get into my apartment and get my mailbox key. That credit card lock pick really saved my ass!