Not my finest hour: Where are my keys?

Raymond Chen

Tuesday was not my finest hour. Towards the end of the work day, I noticed that my coat was nowhere to be seen. I distinctly remember putting it on the back of my chair, but it’s not there now. And where are my keys? After checking all the likely places (and several unlikely ones) in my office, I realized that we had gone out to lunch in my car, and it was a warm day, so I walked outside to my car and, yup, my coat is sitting there in the back seat. Now, my normal routine when locking the car is to hold my keys in one hand while locking the car with the other. Upon further consideration, I figured that I locked the car doors, slipped the key in my coat pocket, and then decided that since it was a warm day, I didn’t need my coat, so I tossed the coat onto the seat before shutting the door. Fortunately, this was not the end of the world. I took the bus home (which includes a bit of walking since the bus stop is a twenty-minute walk from my front door), making a point to take an earlier run than I might normally, since I didn’t want to get caught outdoors when the cold night set in. (I had a heavy sweater but no gloves.) I keep a spare house key in my wallet, so I was able to get inside. My plan was to bring my spare car keys with me when I rode my bicycle to work the following morning. Aha, an improvement to the plan. I made plans to have dinner with a friend at a restaurant near my house. My friend picked me up at my house and then dropped me off at work. Woo-hoo! Everything has been restored to balance! I used my spare car keys to get into my car and drive home. While waiting at a traffic light, I checked the pockets of the coat in the back seat. Empty. Rats. And then I realized, “Hey, where is the coat that I wore to the restaurant?” I must have left it at the restaurant. Well, I was headed in that direction anyway, so I took a slight detour to the restaurant and picked up my other coat. At least one problem was solved. But what about my keys? I concluded that my keys must still be in my office somewhere, so I drove back to work, set on finding the keys and resolving the last outstanding issue. Yes, this could have waited until the next morning, but I was determined by now. I went back to my table, checked the obvious locations again, and then moved on to less obvious locations. “Maybe they fell on the floor.” I crawled under my table, and that’s when I remembered. “Hey, wait a second, this isn’t the first time today that I crawled under my table.” Earlier in the day, I plugged my USB keychain drive into the back of a computer that hangs out under my table. I did this in order to call up a particular dialog box so I could take a screen shot. I crawled into an even more inconvenient spot under my table and, yup, there was my keychain, dangling off the back of one of my computers.

When I start to think I’m a pretty clever guy, I just have to remember the day I lost my keys, and then lost my coat while looking for my keys.


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