There are reasons I keep sight of my keys

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

I am a fanatic about my keys.

I readily admit that I have a fixation with knowing where my keys are at all times. Some might call it an obsession. Others might call it a bent toward obsessive-compulsive behavior. Still others might call it a leaning toward the social equivalent of cranial/rectal inversion, also known as anal retentiveness in some circles.

Whatever you may call it, I have it.

I wasn’t always this way. Most of my youth was spent looking for my misplaced house key so I could let myself back in after work. Then, I would leave my car keys on the nightstand and brush them off with that old move to hit the snooze. Yeah, that one. The one where the alarm clock goes off and you toss one hand out to tap the snooze button and knock everything off the night stand.

I spent many a morning scrambling not to be late for work while I scooted across the carpet or tile as flat on my belly as I could to reach under the night stand and retrieve my keys.

The first time I lost my keys, however, was the last time I actually take credit for the act.

I pulled into an all-night gas station on a trip home from college one evening for the weekend. I pumped the gas into my vintage ’69 Camaro (my favorite car of all time), went into the store, bought a soda and went to the bathroom. I had to have a key from the counter. I let myself in, laid both my keys and the door key on the sink, did what needed to be done and walked out, shutting the door behind me.

You guessed it. I left the keys on the sink. I couldn’t get back in the door. I had no key. The store had no spare key. That’s why it was attached to a length of PVC pipe. To keep people like me from leaving it in the bathroom.

Fortunately, on that occasion the store clerk had some experience opening that door without a key (seems I wasn’t the only one who’d ever done that) and retrieved both for me.

Since that incident, which was embarrassing to say the least, I have tried to keep control of my key ring.

About 15 years ago, I got up one morning to go to work and reached on top of the dresser (where the alarm clock never went) to gather up my keys. They weren’t there.

I searched the house high and low for nearly two hours, calling in late to work. I couldn’t find the keys.

Finally, my then step-daughter arose from bed to mention that the toilet was plugged. Seems she had borrowed my keys to get something out of the car (I lived in neighborhoods where one had to lock the doors back then) and then visited the toilet, whereupon she dropped my keys in the contraption.

She tried to retrieve the key ring by flushing the water out of the bowl and reaching in. The ensuing rush sent my key ring right down the drain.

The toilet was plugged all day until repeated flushings sent my key ring, buried somewhere deep in the bowels of the sewer drain, rushing out through the pipes into the city’s sewer treatment system.

The keys were never located again.

I had to borrow a car, go to the dealership where I bought the vehicle and have them make me a spare key. I was three days without my car keys. Someone else had already lost my spare, which is another reason I give everyone else the spare and make them share it. I try to never give up mine.

Thus is the background.

On a recent evening Holly was at home with the kids and I was in the office working late.

I went straight to my desk, dropped my office keys, which are separate from my car keys, on the keyboard tray where I had to see them, and started typing.

A friend of mine came by to see me, and, slightly inebriated from the day before still, coerced me into going for one beer and a little conversation.

You can tell it was a tough sell.

I rarely lock the office door when I’m going to be close by. Because we don’t really have to around here. One of the reasons I love this place.

I walked out the door, my friend followed. He turned the lock and shut the door.

My keys were still on the keyboard tray.

I didn’t realize the door was locked until I went to go back in and turned the door knob. I automatically fished in my pocket where I know the keys to be all the time. They weren’t there.

I had three options.

I had screwdrivers in the back of the Vette so I could have popped the door and broken in to get my keys and then repaired the door jamb the next day.

I had my car keys in my pocket so I could go home where the spare key hangs on a key ring. That meant making the three-mile-or-so drive down Key Deer Blvd. to the house and back to get in and get my keys.

Or I could take option number three.

I went home and stayed there.

Now, I head for work the next morning, but I had to time it so that I got there after the employees who have keys to the front door.

I sailed in like nothing was wrong. I yanked out the keyboard tray and there, in all their glory, were my office keys, just where I left them.

I tried very hard not to make a big show of dropping the keys in my pocket, but our graphic designer caught me I think.

I believe that’s why she went to the back room. So she could snicker without me hearing it.

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