Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hide a Key

Just a week after my friend Some Assembly Required locked himself out of his apartment, I found myself in a similar, lonely, chilly boat.

At the gym this morning, I discovered I'd grabbed the wrong set of keys on my way out. Instead of my house keys and gym pass, I'd taken a ring of old keys I use to let repairmen into other apartments in our building. We'd put every old key we had on that ring, and I go through them all whenever someone needs to fix something in somebody's unit.

The check-in guy at the gym knows me, so taking my class without my card was no problem. He handed me a towel and let me use the phone. I called my husband, who was just about to head out for a few hours of errands across the river, and we decided he'd leave my keys on the porch in some discreet packaging. Simple solution, whew. I took my class, nearly collapsed as usual, and slowly staggered home.

Nothing was on the front porch. Nothing was tucked under the snow, and nothing was on either side of the porch, in the shrubbery. I spotted mail in the basket in the foyer. It seems the mailman had helpfully taken the envelope with my keys and stuck it safely inside.

I started trying all the keys on my ring, and one of them very unwillingly unlocked the door. It must have been a reject key because we had some. But the locks had been recently lubricated (so our keys make our hands black whenever we touch them) and it behaved. In the mail basket, I found the envelope with my keys that my husband had left, labeled, "Please leave in slot." He must have left it sticking part-way out of our mail slot and, with those instructions, any sensible mailman would finish the job. Whatever. I was in, and I had my keys.

Just out of curiosity, I tried the other building keys in our apartment door, and none worked. But I'd hidden a key in the lobby long ago, for emergencies, although I'd forgotten where it was. During all the renovations in the hallway 2008–09, I'd had to keep moving it around. After a short period of excavating under carpeting and elsewhere, and getting very dirty hands, I found it. So I would have been able to get inside even without my own set of keys.

If you live in an apartment building, keeping an extra key in your lobby is a good idea if you're clever — but not too clever — at hiding things.

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