The Latch-key Blues

I’m no organizational wizard, but I know enough to put a hook up by any front door I call my own to create a home for my keys. This way, I always know where they are, and the chances of me leaving the apartment without them are slim to none. As an added layer of security (for me, not the burglars), I usually sneak a door key under my mat. Because even with a key on a hook…

Considering I didn’t unpack the last of my boxes until I’d lived here nearly two months, it won’t surprise you to know I didn’t put up that necessary hook for just as long. Nor did I get to a hardware store to create an extra set of keys for under my mat.

And without a hook and/or a key under the mat, the whole system falls apart. Keys are forgotten, apartments are locked out of, landlords are annoyed.

In the span of less than two months, I managed to leave my keys in an Uber (who still had them when I called!) and walk out of the office without them, too. A friend visiting walked out and let the door lock behind her without a key in hand. And then there were the countless close-calls where I couldn’t find my set before leaving for work, or worried I’d lost them in the depths of my over-sized purse.

I finally got the hook put up, and finally made an extra set and with both, my anxiety over getting locked out diminished.

Until that day I went to get my mail.

Just when I thought my key woes were over, I discovered that the smallest of them all, a tiny little skeleton key to my pre-war building’s ancient mail slots, was no where to be found on my keychain. Sure enough, the ring where it was supposed to be had a gap just big enough between the wires to let it slip off into the night, never to be seen again.

On the heels of so many key issues, I panicked. How could I tell my landlord I’d lost my key…again? At first I thought I could solve this myself – the key must be somewhere near by, I just had to look hard enough. I emptied my purse. No key. I climbed up and down three flights of stairs, inspecting every one for something small and shiny. No key. I retraced my steps to the bus stop outside my building. You can see where this is going…

With nothing to show for my search, embarrassment not only set in, it took the driver’s seat and floored the gas pedal. In an effort to delay having to ask for a new key, I went so far as to put my mail on hold so it didn’t stack up in a mailbox I couldn’t access. I know.

When I finally did manage to ask my landlord for a new key, it was a fully strategized moment. In the interim, I’d sent him a quick text on an especially hot day to thank him for installing my air conditioners. I didn’t want him to feel like the only time he heard from me was when I’d messed up! I called on a quiet weekday morning and broke the news. Mercifully, he was totally cool about it and left a new key on my kitchen counter waiting for me when I got home. I left a six-pack of Red Stripe by his door the next day.

All, it seemed, was right in the world.

Fast forward a few days, some random Tuesday let’s say, and I’m walking into my building, all keys accounted for. Life is good.

And then it happened. On my walk from the lobby to the stairs, a glint caught my eye. There, on the chair rail…

A mailbox key.

Can you see it, just sitting there waiting for me?
Can you see it, just sitting there waiting for me?