Justifying the Locksmith Licensing Scam

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

LicensingI’ve been involved in the locksmith industry right at forty years.  As far back as the 70s those who taught me the ‘tricks of the trade’ could see the handwriting on the wall; eventually licenses would be required.  A couple of respected locksmiths vouched for my abilities and had me join the Associated Locksmiths of American (ALOA) with the understanding that having membership would be the key, no pun intended, the key to being ‘grandfathered’ by the State; they were correct.

Licensing came about in spite of many individuals pointing out it was a mistake; but as it was explained in no uncertain terms by our local ALOA representatives, it was either become licensed or find some other line of work.

I wrote some of my thoughts when it all came about, Business Licenses – Jump for Joy.  From that article:

I will start off with the stated mission of the Agency which is the “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”. It goes further and states its job as Agency in the State of Texas for “ensuring citizens and consumers of investigations and security services, that these industries provide reliable services, employ qualified and trustworthy personnel, and are free from misrepresentation and fraud”. With a mission statement as broad as all that; (*) who could complain that they don’t have everyone’s interests at heart?  (*sarcasm button engaged)

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Please don’t fall

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

XRayEarly yesterday morning the phone rang as a customer needed a locksmith to come get the keys out of his car.  He was at a gas station about a mile away and the keys were in the ignition.

My back has been giving me grief on and off for the past several weeks; but a simple lockout job shouldn’t be a problem, or so I thought.

I threw on clothes from the day before and was there in only a few minutes.  His was the only car at the gas pumps, a 2005 Ford Focus.  The fellow greeted me with a heavy Caribbean accent explaining that he’d bought the car this past week and didn’t know it had auto lock when the doors closed.

Glancing at the driver side door handle it was clear that it no longer functioned, at least not from the outside as it was unhooked.  I asked him how it got broken and how he’d been getting in.

“It was like that when I bought the car so I get in through the passenger side.  Is it very expensive to fix?”

My plan did not include taking a door apart to repair previous damage, not with my back as I set about fitting a door key.  With electric locks it would unlock the whole car and I could be on my way in no time.

That was a great idea too…

The door key fit perfectly except it didn’t unlock the whole car, just the driver door, the one that wasn’t going to open since the outside door handle wasn’t attached to anything.  There was no lock on the passenger side thanks to Ford’s engineering staff trying to save a few bucks on each unit.

The only other outside lock was on the trunk; glad my key fit so nicely.  When I popped the deck lid I explained that my back was out and that he would need to push the back seat down by triggering the latch which holds the seat backs firmly to the frame.

“I’ve already had to do that once”, as he laid the seat backs down and slid into the car.  He then unlocked the other doors and I opened the rear driver’s side door so he could exit the car.

“Please don’t fall”, I half way laughed as he tried to figure the best way to glide out of his awkward position, “With fabricated media coverage coming out of Baltimore someone would swear that a White guy just beat up a perfectly innocent Black guy and shot him in the back.”

Fortunately, perhaps not the most efficient choice of words; but fortunately the fellow was familiar with the news item referenced and had a good sense of humor.  Beyond that he was extremely grateful for being able to get on his way without further damage to his car; he’d fully expected me to break out a window or some other drastic measure knowing the door handle didn’t work.

Aren’t there enough problems in this country; illegal immigration, unemployment, an economy so bad it matches that of post WWII, and foreign terrorists on our own soil who don’t appreciate the 1st Amendment?

Crime SceneThank goodness we have the 2nd Amendment and two terrorists found out the hard way that you don’t mess with Texas.

So why did some nitwit have to fabricate a story to further enflame racial divide by saying she saw and heard a White cop shoot an unarmed Black man in the back?

Summertime is just around the corner, that time when folks tend to get agitated more quickly and do stupid things.  Let’s hope cooler heads prevail as our nation struggles to find its way in spite of our challenges.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


What’s a locksmith?

By: T F SternWhat’s a locksmith?
The Moral Liberal


I am a big fan of Sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury’s story, “Fahrenheit 451″. He took me to see the future, a future where firemen didn’t put out fires; instead, they burned books. A little boy standing with his father pointed to a fire truck going down the road, “Oh look, there’s going to be a fire!” The houses all had to be made of non-flammable material and the older houses were condemned; their owners forced into the newer structures.

The locksmith industry is very similar to that story. I started out in the 70’s learning how locks were put together so that I could figure out how to defeat them; picking them, impressioning a key to take the place of one that may have been lost or taking them apart to change the combination so that an old existing key would no longer operate that lock. Over the years my skills improved, as did the manner in which locks worked. I felt confident that my abilities as a locksmith would match up with my competitors. Not to be boastful, I had acquired a sense of pride that I was a fairly good locksmith.

At some point in time the manufacturers of locks began to change from mechanical operations to electronic mechanisms. In some systems the two work side by side, such as the transponder keys in many of today’s automobiles. I not only had to figure out the mechanical combination that would permit the key to turn within the lock cylinder, I also had to match wits with the electronic package that was controlled by the vehicle’s computer. The technology that made the key turn I have been able to understand since it is not so different than earlier generations that sprang from Linus Yale’s creativity, or for that matter, the ancient lock designs of the orient. I use a fancy electronic gizmo that hooks up to the vehicle’s computer and permits me to complete the programming necessary for the vehicle to start; how it does what it does, I have no idea.

This I do know, where I used to get $ 35 dollars to fit a key that would make a Ford F-150 work; I now get $ 150 to fit the original plus one duplicate along with the programming. I make a lot more money for very little extra effort. The problem, at least as I see it; I make most of my money off of an electronic system that someone else knows much more about than I do.

1imprsn 01aI’m beginning to see the future, a future where locksmiths, at least the mechanically proficient tradesmen (professional, if it makes you feel any better) that I have become, no longer are needed. I have watched as the electronic industry has taken hold of, to the point of taking over, most of what used to be the locksmith industry. I am not saying this is good or bad, it just is.

The job skills that made it possible for me to make a very decent living are being moved to the museum, the one next door to the dinosaur exhibit. Instead of a tool box that has a Swiss #4 impression file, the locksmith now has a software program or an optical scanner. Where a thorough knowledge of mechanical systems was important, and still is to some extent, the valuable information has gone towards the electronics and computerized end.

I used to think that “sidewinder” keys or Medco high security locks were the future, I was mistaken; those are Jurassic compared to the electronic gadgets out there now. The newest cars on the market have no keys, none at all. They use electronics, entirely electronic gadgetry to disable the opening of the doors and the accomplishment of starting the vehicle’s engine. If I had not seen the future, like the little boy pointing to the fire truck and shouting out in excitement, “Oh look, there’s going to be a fire!”, then this would have troubled me more than it does now. About the only problem for me is that I have no desire to become that electronic wizard who tricks all those electrons into lining up at the “atomic sheer line” and letting some servo unit do its thing. Oh, there are still enough of the old fashioned style locks to keep me in business for a while longer.

I’m part of the past now, wondering if Linus Yale and Hank Spicer will let me sit down on the bench to rest my bones when I put away my tool box.