Before the thought was even fully formed, I'd executed a U-turn as impressive in its speed as it was its illegality and high-tailed it back to the zoo. Leaving the car outside the front gate, I raced through the now-empty (well, empty of people) park, the increasingly worse scenarios running through my mind.
This is another reason I don't like primates. I don't trust animals that will check your locks as soon as your back is turned...
I didn't lock the bear exhibit.
Crap, I bet the bears have figured out how to open the door.
Double crap, they're probably roaming the zoo right now.
I bet they've eaten five or six animals by now.
They're probably not even in the zoo anymore, they've probably scaled the perimeter fence and are running amok through downtown.
They've probably already eaten two kids!
Okay, so the last one actually did make a smile a little... I mean, there had been some bad field trips that day.
Well, you never heard anything in the news about escaped zoo bears laying siege to a mid-sized US city (and believe me, it would have made the news), so you've probably guessed that the later scenario didn't happen. Actually, none of the above did. The lock, when I approached it, was, in fact, locked. I tugged the shackle a few times just to be sure, then went back home. I suppose it was a waste of time and a waste of gas. Doesn't matter. There is no way I would have slept soundly without knowing that I'd re-checked it.
Locks are my special phobia. I should probably be glad that I was still in the vicinity when I thought to go back and re-check my lock - there have been nights when I've woken up at 3AM, convinced that I left every lock in the zoo unlocked. Sometimes I've gone back to work in the dark to make sure all is well. Other times, I've gotten to work super early the next morning just to make sure everything is secure. I don't think I've ever had one of these paranoid fits and then found a lock not secured... but it freaks me out every time, so I always end of checking.
Sometimes (actually, fairly often), I find locks that other keepers forgot to close. This just makes me more agitated - if they forget now and then, I reason, I must also. I know that I have left things unlocked before, but strangely enough, it's never been one of those "Oh, I know I forgot something" situations that keeps me up all night. It's just something I discover when I make my rounds the next morning.
It would be sensible, I suppose, to just pay more attention to each lock that I open and close and work. That way, I could say, "Yes, I do remember checking the tiger lock. I know it's good." But it's just so second nature, and there's always so much else going on (counting animals, responding to a radio call, balancing 80 feed pans in one arm, etc) that it's easy to do it without realizing it. Instead, I end up looping through the zoo all day, checking, double-checking, and (often) triple-checking locks.
With all the obsessive-compulsive tugging of locks, you'd think I'd remember to lock my apartment or car now and then. You would be wrong. Oh well, no one has broken in or stolen my car yet. And at least I remember the important locks. Like the bears...