All Keyed Up

Have you ever done something so completely hare-brained that after the fact you can’t quite believe you actually did it? I’m still shaking my head over what happened at my house last night.

My husband and I were all dressed up and ready to head into the city for an event that we were really excited about. As avid back-yard gardeners ourselves, we follow the news about sustainable agriculture and were ready to celebrate the achievements of the NRDC Growing Green award recipients.

EEEeeeerrrhhhhh…!!! (That’s the sound of brakes being slammed on, in case you couldn’t tell from my phoneticization) Not so fast.

Carrying a tiny evening purse with space for little more than my lipstick and Blackberry (Oh, OK, and a couple of tissues – never leave home without ’em), I’d mentioned in passing to my husband that I would not be bringing my keys with me. He was driving us into the city in his car, so he had to bring his set anyway.  He went out by the front door, and I went out by the back door so I could grab the recyclables on my way out. As I pulled the door shut behind me, I heard a faint voice call out something that sounded vaguely like, “Don’t lock the door…..!”

Too late.

As I rounded the corner of the house into the driveway, my husband appeared with a look of total panic on his face. “You’ve got your keys, right?”

Uh, no. Actually, I don’t. We already covered this, no?

Thinking his keys were in his coat pocket, my husband had pulled the front door shut behind him (it locks automatically). A quick search of his pockets for the key ring soon revealed his mistake. As the early evening air grew distinctly chillier, and ominous rain clouds piled up in the distance, and the sun began to set, we pondered our options. A quick call to a neighbor confirmed my suspicion that although we had talked about exchanging keys for just such an emergency, we had never, in fact, completed the thought into action. And the local police don’t make house calls unless there’s an actual problem; say, if somebody other than ourselves was trying to break into our house, for example. We then wasted a good ten minutes surveying the garden and arguing about where we should have hidden a key that would not be obvious to a would-be burglar.

All I can say is, thank god mobile phones still work when you are locked out of your own house and feeling like a complete ninny. I called a locksmith who promised to get to our house as quickly as the rush hour traffic would allow. Then we pulled two lawn chairs into the driveway where the last rays of sun were warmest, and sat down in our dress-up clothes to await his arrival. Tick-tick-tick. When I think about how much knitting I could have completed while we were sitting there, I could cry. But if my keys didn’t fit into that tiny little evening bag, not even my smallest one-skein shawl project would have made the cut.

The awards ceremony started at 6:30 and by the time we got the locksmith on the phone, it was nearly 6:00. At three in the morning, the drive from our home into the city takes about 20 minutes, but during rush hour it can take an hour. When the locksmith finally did appear, he came supplied with a sophisticated set of lock-picking tools. I was most impressed – haven’t seen such equipment since that movie The Italian Job with Charlize Theron and that cutie pie Marky-Mark (Oh, yeah, he’s plain old Mark Wahlberg now). Unfortunately, this locksmith was no Marky-Mark, in that our locks proved un-pick-able. Who knew? Meanwhile, time’s a-wasting.

His next suggestion was to drill out the lock, and by that point we were not standing on ceremony. He could have suggested dynamiting the door and I probably would have agreed. Did I mention that my sister is the event planner for NRDC, and that this was the first event in San Francisco we were able to attend in all the years she has been with that estimable organization? No? Well, maybe that helps to explain why we were so anxious to get going. No dynamite proved necessary, but Mr. Locksmith still had a heckuva time drilling out the lock on our door. These locks were reassuringly, impenetrably solid, except when we needed them to give way! Another fifteen minutes ticked by with excruciating slowness, magnified dramatically by the whine of the drill as it failed, repeatedly, to incapacitate the door lock.

Finally, at about a quarter to seven, we were in!! Once the locksmith was paid and on his way to the next bone-headed home-owner lock-out emergency, we high-tailed it into the city for what was left of the evening. Turns out we were not the only guests to appear fashionably late, and we actually made it in time for the awards ceremony. It was sad that we missed the cocktail meet-and-greet hour (I seem to appreciate awards ceremonies better – especially ones featuring a comedian, like this one – when I’ve had time for a glass or two of wine ahead of time), but we still got to visit with my sister and meet some of her colleagues. In the end, a good time was had by all. It’s just, well, our back door knob looks a little funny with a hole drilled through the middle of it. Good thing we’ve still got that dead-bolt above it.

And yes, just to be on the safe side (better late than never, I always say), I crammed my keys into that teeny purse of mine. Because, well, you never know.

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  1. ugggghhhh! I feel your pain!!!!

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