One morning not too long ago (ie, this morning), I was waiting for the bus to take me to my office for another eight hours of having my very soul sucked out of me, when I saw a car pull from an alley, followed by a sound that sounded like keys hitting the pavement. I looked in the car’s wake, only to find that keys had in fact hit the pavement. The keys must have been sitting on top of the car, or perhaps on the trunk, and had been whisked off when the driver turned out of the alley. Even though my bus was nearly upon me, I ran to get the keys and pocketed them.
As I made my way to work, my soul begging me to find another vocation, I examined the keys. There were at least 18, strewn across two sets of interlinked key holders, along with a bevy of little cards I see people scan at various places to get discounts: Planet Workout, Workout Palace, Workout-a-GoGo, Mr. Workout, Workoutapalooza Inc. and, of course, Binny’s Liquors. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a beepy thing that people use to get into cars (I am sure there are proper terms for these things, but as I have neither need for discounts or cars, I don’t know them).
I channeled Sherlock Holmes long enough to instinctively sniff the keys. They were neither covered with lint, nor did smell like someone’s pants, so I figured they belonged to a lady (assuming the keys were kept in something relatively clean, like a purse).
At work, I put out as many notices as I could think of: on Craigslist, on Chicago’s EveryBlock forums, on Facebook (both my own page and others dedicated to my neighborhood). ”Found a set of keys; contact me to identify” was the broadest clue I thought to leave. I received a couple of inquiries but I – or rather they – came up snake eyes.
Once at home, I sat and looked at the keys. What could I do? Put up signs around the neighborhood? Since I am to be on the move during most of the weekend, I hated the idea of the keys languishing in my home while someone, somewhere cultivated a horrible sense of panic. Looking at the keys again, my eyes fell on the beepy thing. The beepy thing! I reasoned that, if the driver pulled out of an alley, they probably lived in that alley (or, you know, at least had their garage there).
With keys in hand, I walked up and down the alley in question, hitting the beepy thing at intervals. Oddly enough, the perfectly times responses had nothing to do with a car. I pressed the beepy thing, a child screamed. I pressed the beepy thing, a dog barked. Finally, I hit the beepy thing, and a car started to honk inside a garage. I hit it again; the honking stopped. Again, it started. Again, it stopped.
Counting the houses from the end of the street, I made my way to the front of the house where I was met with a locked gate. Knowing I was close to my prize – or rather, someone else’s prize – I waved down a neighbor or two who had come to the window to watch this strange fellow pace in front of the house in question. They all spoke Spanish. Like a scene out of “Lost In Translation“, I did my best to communicate, through simple words and simpler mime (pointing at me, the keys, and the house, mainly), I had someone’s keys. Eventually, the point got across and one older lady started yelling at the house. ”Clara! Clara!” Clara emerged, speaking Spanish rapidly with the older lady. And then Clara’s daughter emerged, ran down the stairs, shook my hand, and took the keys.
There is an odd perception out there that atheists are non-caring, non-compassiate people who are cold and unfeeling. I’m afraid I did nothing for the cause, as Clara, her daughter, and all of the assembled friends repeated how blessed they were.
But that’s fine. At least the woman has her keys again.