Two years ago, I found myself trying to break into my friends’ apartment.
I had coordinated their wedding a few days earlier, and they had since departed for their honeymoon. A box from the wedding was supposed to go to one of the guests, only to end up in their apartment. Now the guest wanted the box, and I, having a key to their home, needed to retrieve it.
My friends had warned me that the key had a tendency to stick, though that proved to be an understatement. After 10 minutes of wrestling with it, my hands sore from twisting and straining, I gave up. The box would have to wait. But I thought about the maintenance man I had seen across the courtyard as I struggled with the door; surely he would have a functional key.
The request was ridiculous, I knew: I had never seen this person before. He had absolutely no reason to believe my reasons for needing to enter the apartment. But I figured I had nothing to lose, so I waved him over and asked if he would let me in.
Much to my surprise, he did — no questions asked. Even more shocking was the fact that he unlocked the door and immediately left, not bothering to wait around and make sure that I didn’t ransack the place. He let a complete stranger into an apartment that wasn’t his and walked away.