This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When the Keychain Gets Legs

            Last Thursday, at 10:15 a.m., I got up to go to the post office to pick up my mail. The rest of the day was ruined.
            I rent two P.O. boxes, one for personal mail and one for business. (It’s complicated; don’t ask.) On one of my two sets of car keys I keep the P.O. box keys, so I went to the kitchen to grab that keychain. It wasn’t on the desks in my office, so it would be on the kitchen counter, which is the other place it lives.
            Not this time. The car key without the P.O. box keys was there, but not the one I wanted. It happens sometimes, so I wasn’t too concerned at first. A pass or two through the house generally turns it up.
            Not this time. Two hours later, having gone through the house multiple times, searched every surface meticulously more than once, checked in every drawer (plus the oven, fridge and microwave), I still couldn’t find the keys. Took everything out of the car, too, and checked under the seats. Still keyless.

They Got Up and Walked Away

            Usual protocol in a situation like this is to try to remember the last time you used the keys and work forward from there. I knew I had them Wednesday at noon when I picked up the mail and would have needed them to drive home. After that, I had gone out twice, later on Wednesday, but couldn’t say which keychain I took. Generally, I grab the first one I see and head out the door.
            Possibly I had taken the missing keychain when I already had the other set of keys in my pocket. So I checked the last post office I visited and the other places I’d been afterward to see if the first set had been left behind anywhere. No luck. Came home and searched the house thoroughly several more times. Still no keys, and no work getting done, either.
            When Linda got home that night she suggested that perhaps I had put the missing keys on top of the car and driven off, using the other key. The next morning, when it was light, she went all the way to the end of our road (about a quarter-mile) to see if they were lying at the side, where they had fallen off the car. No luck.

How Did They Ever End Up There?

            At this point, matters were getting serious, and my mental health was none too good. I got a replacement P.O. box key for the business box and checked into the cost of replacing the missing car key. The figure quoted was enough to spur me to look further.
            Shortly after five on Friday afternoon, I was going through my home office one more time. Near my desk was a pile of research materials for a project I’m working on. I had lifted them up several times to see if the keys had fallen in among them, with no success. This time, for some reason, I opened up the top three-ring binder, and there, inside it, were the missing keys.
            It was easy to figure out from there. Late Wednesday afternoon, I’d opened that binder to check a fact and left it open on the desk. An hour later, we went out to dinner for my birthday, and I must have taken the missing keys. Returning home, I probably tossed them on the desk and they landed on the open binder; closing it while cleaning up the desktop a while later, I must not have seen the keys inside. What a relief to have them back — and without a supernatural explanation.