I’ve often said it here that it’s the little things that tell the story, the little things that so often give us away. I never meant that in the shape of a key.
Cycling home from work last week I stopped to buy groceries, came out of the shop, unlocked my bike and cycled home.
I arrived at my gate, hand in pocket. No keys. Try again, both pockets, back pockets. No keys. That sinking feeling. Don’t really believe that they are not in my pocket, try again. But they’re gone. Gone for real.
I had them when I unlocked my bicycle. That was about three kilometres away. Make an instant decision to retrace my steps. I cycle back to the shop. This time on the wrong side of the road. I know. It was a dangerous thing to do but I was sure that I would find the keys. There would be little point in cycling on the other side of the road. Kept one eye on traffic and used the other to scan the terrain all around me. No luck.
Went into the shop, which was busy. Asked at every check-out. No keys. Cycle up to the Garda station. No luck. But the garda did produce a large drum of assorted keys. Clearly I’m not the only person to have lost keys. And in the drum there were loads of car keys, mortice keys, every sort of key you could imagine, minus mine.
I decided I’d call into a number of shops and ask if anyone had handed in keys. Felt a bit of a clown doing it but there was no alternative.
Shop after shop said no. One or two people asked for my telephone number in case someone handed in keys. I thought that was nice of them.
I cycle that road every day to and from work. Indeed, I have been cycling it for many a long year.
What amazed me are all the shops I knew nothing about, especially all the restaurants and all the different styles and nationalities. Every time I opened the door of a restaurant I felt I was entering another world, so different from the road outside. The road is so familiar to me, the restaurants, with the exception of two, were simply foreign territory. That struck me as strange, how the familiar and alien can coexist side-by-side.
We have that great way in Ireland of saying that things could always be worse. So too with my keys.
About a month ago I had ‘downsized’ the bunch and taken off the car key. I seldom drive the car so there was no point in keeping it on the bunch. And about five years ago I gave a neighbour a spare key of the hall door. I still have no key to the back door. Three other keys are also missing.
Next morning I went back on reconnaissance. Again, no luck. Called to the Garda station. Looked into the big drum for the third time. No sign of my keys. I’m hoping they will not arrest me for wasting Garda time.
Twenty years ago I lost keys, again while cycling. I retraced my steps and fortunately found them. I also lost keys on a beach. Lady luck worked again. A kind neighbour walked the beach before high tide and found them.
I’m still hoping. St Anthony?
Believe it or not, the day I lost the damn keys I had earlier been talking to someone about keys and leaving a spare hall door key with a neighbour.
See, it's the little things.