Eps 34: Everyday Stupidity


I want to give you two examples of remarkable thickness that happened to me this week. Not sure if there is any wisdom to be found but perhaps it is entertaining.

At the beginning of this week I broke the key of my chain lock. In Amsterdam you need such a lock to attach your bike to a fixed object, like a bridge or a streetlight. It was not the key itself that was broken but the top part so it was like I was holding a thick toothpick instead of a key. It still worked but it was difficult to create leverage with nothing to hold on to.

After 3 days of clumsy fumbling I reminded myself to go to a locksmith. I wanted to know if the key could be fixed or copied. Quite unexpectedly it turned out to be a relative rare key and only at the 3rd locksmith they had the right machine to copy my key. But, they warned me, a new key would cost me €14,95. I thought that was reasonable because a new lock costs about € 80,- or so.

The guy behind the counter was looking for the right ‘mother key’ that he could use. Not sure if I am using the right word but that is the key fits your lock but doesn’t have the particular pattern cut out yet. Turns out he can’t find it. He asks a colleague for help. This guy comes over. He has a big beer belly and has an ‘I got this, son’ attitude. Not being a man of many words he goes to work straight away. He is using a thicker mother key and starts filing and pounding. Apparently his strategy is to create a thinner key by losing the surplus of metal. In my mind I am impressed and hear myself saying ‘you see, real craftsmen still exist’. Also it is taking quite a bit of time and I realize that €14,95 isn’t expensive considering the amount of labor that it costs to duplicate my key.

After another 10 minutes the beer belly guy surrenders. He is unable to make the key fit. Without a word he goes back to the back of the shop and the other guy brings me the bad news. I ask him what I should do. He says that there might be another locksmith that has the right mother key but he can’t make any promises. To be honest I am not looking forward to another mission to another locksmith. Then I see a display with padlocks behind. I realize that I just replace the padlock and keep the chain I have been using. Warily I ask him about the price of a new padlock. €13,95 he says.

I say ‘what??’ For €13,95 I have a brand new padlock and it costs €14,95 to copy a key from a 6 year old padlock? We have been here for half an hour, why didn’t you tell me before?

The other thing is about this website. It is a WordPress site and it offers the option to fill in a form under almost every page. I was told that this is very important for a modern website. You don’t want people who feel a connection with what you have to offer change their mind because they have to go to another page to email you.

What they didn’t tell me was that I would receive copious amounts of spam mail. I am not exaggerating when I say it was almost a 1000 spam mails per day. A lot goes to my spam box but lately more and more spam was showing up in my inbox. I realized that my forms needed to have a CAPTCHA function. This sounded like some serious programming and I was contemplating who to call. Also I googled a bit. It was getting more complicated than I wanted because the brand of forms that my site was using was a different one from what I found.

Finally I decided to take a look at the dashboard of my website. Turns out that I can turn on the CAPTCHA feature with one click. Changing 5 forms was 5 mouse clicks. Now I have 1000 less spam mails today. It took me about 93,000 emails before I found out.

The energy we waste on being mindless. Priceless.


 This is episode 34 in a series of 100 blog posts that will be published daily during the 100 Day Warrior, a unique program around physical strength, inner wisdom and meaning. All posts are written by Atalwin Pilon, founder of Basic Goodness and creator of the 100 Day Warrior. For requests for motivational speaking, in-company workshops, online coaching and mindfulness training click here. If you would like to join our international community of brave and inspiring human beings or just follow this blog and receive updates, please click here or sign up on the right side of the page. Atalwin specializes in coaching smart and creative people, both groups and individuals. If you are interested in a free coaching session click here.

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