Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smith: Beware lost-key gremlins

May 19, 2011

Let me start by saying that I’m not superstitious and I certainly don’t worry at all about Friday the 13th. Any month that starts on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th. And, no, I haven’t seen the horror movie by that name.

While many people are superstitious about the date, I wonder if it isn’t little gremlins that hide and cause me and my family problems, particularly with keys. I suspect we all have lost keys dozens of times over the years and after frustrating searches, have discovered keys in plain sight.

Sometimes, the gremlins don’t hide keys, they cause forgetfulness. Let’s go back a couple of decades when I was working a little after quitting time, trying to finish a story. The last employee to leave asked if she should lock the doors and I said “yes.” I only had a couple paragraphs to go and not being bothered seemed like a good idea.

After ending my writing, I turned off the computer and went to the back door where my truck was parked. To my surprise, both the back door and front door were locked and my keys were in the truck. Now, the answer would be to simply call home and have someone come rescue me. Sadly, cell phones weren’t around in those days and one of our daughters was visiting with a friend via the phone. That meant I got the frustrating “buzz, buzz, buzz” for an hour before I could get a call in. Poor me! Stuck in the Chieftain office starving and knowing Jean had a great meal waiting at home. Finally, I got a call through and I was rescued by a wife who was unhappy that my lateness had ruined dinner.

Through the years there were many key incidents. It wasn’t just me — there were times when staff members locked their key in cars in Leavenworth or Kansas City, Kan. I have raced around the area rescuing many employees and, yes, there were times that folks came to my aid. We found lost keys behind desks, in the restroom, by car seats and about any place you can imagine. Jean got so good she could open a car door in just a few minutes using a bent hanger. Of course, new locks on cars have made that method obsolete. Finally I started carrying spare copies of all the vehicle keys in my billfold and it seemed like the incidents went away.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with Friday the 13th. Well, last Friday, after a decade of hiding, the gremlins of lost keys came back to haunt us. Jean and I were driving through Lawrence when we decided to stop at a local store. Jean was driving and I was chatting on the phone with daughter Angela. We parked and Jean left to go in the store and after the phone call was over, I locked the car and went into the store. As we were leaving Jean asked if I had the keys. My answer was a quick “no” since I was sure she had taken the keys with her. What all of this meant was the gremlins had struck and we were locked out.

We called a locksmith who quickly arrived and opened the door. It was then we discovered the second shock: The keys weren’t in the ignition. I checked my pockets and the keys weren’t there. Jean was sure she had left them in the car but she searched her purse anyway and there, to our amazement and her chagrin, we found the keys hiding in a secluded fold of her purse! This was an unusual happening since I’m the one who usually loses things and Jean is the one who finds them.

We had an uneventful trip home, other than having a deer crossing K-32 a bit ahead of us. There is one sure thing as far as I’m concerned — if there is any way to lose keys, it most likely will happen to us on Friday the 13th. Come to think of it, I’m not sure where my keys are right now …

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