Thursday, June 10, 2010

Please and Keys

Near the place I live there's a church with a sign out front on which they put up various sayings about life that range from cute and pointless to subtle attempts to convert. As you might expect I tend to disagree with the things they put up, or agree for what they might consider the wrong reasons.

The latest bit of wisdom to go up on the sign is "You can open more doors with 'Please' than with keys." I presume that this is meant to imply something positive about humanity and how being nice is good and all that. This is not however the lesson I draw.

For me, this is really just a statement of the obvious. Consider the facts for a moment. There are a bajillion doors out there (maybe not a bajillion, but lots), and a fair whack of those have locks. Now at the moment I possess four different keys. Between them they open half the doors in my house, a post office box, the glove box of my bike (it also turns the bike on), and 4 doors at work. So the percentage of doors that my keys open is, oh roughly, 0. And while I haven't tried it, I'm sure if I went knocking on doors asking people to please open the door I'd manage to get more doors to open. I might not be able to go in, but I'm sure the doors would open. So, yes, of course you can open more doors with 'please' than with keys.

This also suggests another thing. Human security is much less reliable than the mechanical security provided by locks. If a door is locked and there's no one there, my ability to get in is pretty slim. Add a person and it's easier to get in. The person is the weak point there. So perhaps the message is actually to be more aware of your security procedures. That's a message I could get behind, but they really should be more to the point.

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