Written 9~24~99


    I assume most adults grow out of their childhood career fantasies. Except for the real astronauts, spies, and movie stars, I assume grown-ups' work fantasies involve promotions and raises, or maybe working for themselves one day.

    Except me.

    I want to be a cat burglar.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not at all interested in stealing anything. I just want to break in. It would be ideal if I had a job where, say, the owner of a company would pay me to break in to test his security.

    I don't know quite what appeals to me about cat-burgling. To do it, you must have a lot of grace and dexterity, not to mention fearlessness and know-how. All those are characteristics I admire. To be a cat burglar, you can't be afraid of heights, getting caught, or your own failure.

    I'm fascinated by movies (or parts of movies) about breaking into buildings. Remember the movie The Real McCoy, with Kim Basinger? Probably not, because the critics hated it. I was enthralled, though, because it goes into great detail about how Kim Basinger's character plans to break into a high-security bank. I always enjoy break-in scenes, such as the ones in Sneakers and Mission Impossible.

    Personally, I have broken into four or five buildings already. No, it was nothing illegal... in all but one case, someone was locked out of their home. The other time, I was scheduled to pick up my couch from a friend who had been borrowing it. I arrived at his house and found nobody home. I couldn't come back, since I had the moving truck that day only, so instead I broke in through an unlocked second-story window. I don't think that was illegal either, because my friend didn't mind once I told him about it.

    I've decided to work on polishing the skills I'd need to be a cat burglar. Just in case, you know. I've always been a natural climber, and have done rock climbing in the past. I got sidetracked from rock climbing during my triathlon training, but now I plan to start climbing again. I go to a climbing gym where you climb walls using only the smallest foot- and hand-holds. Could be very useful.

    The other skill I am learning is lock picking. For my birthday, I got a lock-picking book and lock-pick set. I bought a few locks to practice on, and have managed to open two so far. One is a "high-security" pin tumbler padlock that I can open in less than 20 seconds. It is spring-loaded, and makes a very satisfying CLICK when it opens.

    I still need more practice, of course. I've been practicing while watching TV, which is a good time to do it because it occupies my hands. Since lock picking relies on touch, rather than sight, this way I get in the habit of using my hands without looking.

    (Added 9/29/99) I just found a local news story about a skilled cat burglar who has been stumping the police for almost a year. Check it out.


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