Ziptide December 2018

Dec. 3, 2018

Always Interesting

Eleven years ago I retired from 20 years of inspecting and maintaining military aircraft and took over the key and locksmith shop my father-in-law had run for 55 years. With only a Foley Bellsaw correspondence course, I was able to pass the test for a license and unfortunately my father-in-law was not able to train me. The shop is old, well known, and well stocked and is located beside the DMV (tag place) downtown. This is a midsized town in the middle of North Carolina.

I immediately joined the North Carolina Locksmiths Association ( which he helped to establish. At the first quarterly meeting I attended I met Mike, who became my mentor and I started taking classes to learn oh so much of locksmithing that I didn't know. Mike has talked me through many things I got into but didn't know how to get out of. 

People who know I'm comparatively new to the business often ask me how I like it. My stock answer is "It's always interesting, sometimes fun, and sometimes a pain in the ___." I know this could apply to most jobs! Having a physical shop in a midsized town brings an amazing array of odd and interesting things through the door and service related questions on the phone.

After only 11 years I've unlocked cars, 18-wheelers, even houses where people were locked out by dogs. I once was asked by the police to unlock a car in the Wal-mart parking lot because the driver had gotten in, locked the doors, and apparently had a heart attack and died.

People have also brought in strange things to have them unlocked or keys made, such as a full sized one-arm bandit, antique locks, and a lockable whiskey decanter set with a very strange lock. I once got a call from Green Bay, Wisconsin, wanting me to unlock a house. Turned out that he was on a business trip and his wife had locked herself out in my general area (still about 50 miles away).

I can only imagine what my father-in-law and others, with many years in the trade have experienced.

Robert Donaldson

Beaver Key & Locksmith

Statesville, NC

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