Like many households, ours has a quiet running battle in place, because in every relationship some aspects of eachother’s personalities are correlated and other are compensated. While I hate the heat, my husband hates the cold. I love silence in the morning, my husband likes to watch TV as he acclimatizes to the new day and while I tend to lock down the house as if expecting an angry hoarde to descend at any time, my husband is more of a free spirit and likes to think he lives in a time when you can still leave your front door unlocked. (We don’t and you can’t, but that is hardly the point).
My drive to lock up and and lock down I am pretty sure comes from my father. He has always been someone who has valued security over convenience and was always the one when watching 1970s TV cop shows who was waiting for the car to get stolen because the cops had run into the building without having first taken the precaution of locking the doors behind them – because kids, in the olden days you actually had to lock your car, not just point a beepy thing at them. We never left a key under the mat and when we went on holiday, the lights in our house would switch on every evening courtesy of an automatic timer to give the impression that people were at home.
His cautious approach has continued throughout his life and although where they live now has a secure gate to the carpark and entrance doors and they live on the third floor, he has still taken the precaution of having a security door installed for the front door and invisible film mounted over the only two windows that are exposed to the lift-side balcony which prevent them from being smashed by burglars – or for that matter members of the emergency services – who are trying to get in.
The thing that worries me the most is the thick metal latch he mounted some time ago inside the wooden front door, which means that even with a key I could not get in to help if needed. Despite my repeated pleas for him to remove it, he bolts himself and my mother into their fortress every evening.
He does this despite his short term memory failing him. Although he seems to have a reduced appreciation of time passing, or less interest in conversation and although he finds the plots of new TV shows or movies almost impossible to follow, these habits have stuck fast and are not going anywhere.
My father rarely goes out, so I suggested to him that it was pointless having a security code on his iPad, which he uses everyday. I was worried another obsession of his – the need to constantly update passwords, which has now left him locked out of his own bank account, would result in him updating his passcode without telling anyone, then forgetting the new code, which would leave him locked out of that as well. I took the code off but a week later it was back on. He had forgotten the conversation and Captain Security had kicked in again and reset it. His memory may be failing but his cognitive ability is still very sharp.
My mother sent me a message over the weekend. She had made the mistake of handing her iPad over to my father to show him a photo and leaving it with him. When she took it back less than half an hour later, he had set a six digit passcode in place. Fortunately, he remembered it and I was able to talk her through taking it off again, but I guess the day may come when he could do that and leave my mother with a beautifully expensive brick.
For the time being, I have advised her to keep her iPad hidden when not in use, but I suppose one of my next tasks will be to back up both of their devices in expectation of the day when his cyber safe habits kick in again and he devises a code so cunning, even he can’t remember it. Part of the irony of his failing memory is that he is unaware in the moment that he will not remember in a few moments what he has done.
In the meantime, my mother will just need to keep her iPad secure, ironically to protect it against the lifetime security habits of my father, who in trying to keep it safe is the only real cyber threat it faces.