The other day I took my kids to the park. I have two girls and so sometimes I hang out on playgrounds. This playground was nice, we met another family there. Their daughter liked Trolls and my daughters like Trolls, so the other father turned on Spotify from his phone.
This is what happens in my life.
We left the park and I took the girls to the grocery store. This is super exciting stuff. You know, getting almond milk and avocados and cereal and cheese sticks.
When we leave, my 4 year-old is very interested in the gum and mints and she picks up each of the Icebreaker packs and re-arranges them to her liking. She usually wants a sticker from the cashier, who obliges. They put all of the groceries in our cart and there are 10 bags or so.
We walk back out to the parking lot and I fumbled with my keys. My typical keyring has been a carabiner(?) but one of the cheap fake ones. The carabiner had loosened and several keys fell off into my pocket. I fished out my car key and opened the doors for the girls. I loaded up the groceries and put the girls in their seats. I shut the door and stood by my door. I took out the carabiner and slid my car key back on it, but oops. I dropped it.
….Just so happens my parking spot was over a storm drain.
And that my driver’s side door was directly over it.
And that I decided to fix my keyring standing over a storm drain.
Down it goes.
I kicked my car.
Slammed the door (thankfully it was still unlocked).
I look at my children.
They are ready to go but here’s this hunk of metal that can like 100 mph in a rainstorm (well, maybe not my car, it’s old, but still) and can like haul stuff and haul people for great distances, but it’s completely useless without this other tiny sliver of metal to get everything started.
Yeah the car could be hotwired I guess but I have two English degrees so what do you think?
I did the next rational thing I could think of. I went to my trunk and opened one of my grocery bags. I opened two cheesesticks and handed them to my children.
This would buy me some time.
I did the next rational thing I could think of. I called my wife.
“I have something to tell you,” I said.
“What? Are you okay?” she asked.
“I dropped my keys down a storm drain. I’m not joking,” I said.
“Okay,” she said. “I’m on my way.”
My wife was at work and you’d think the easy answer here would be for her to bring me a key or a fob or whatever.
But I drive a 2000 Honda CRV. That’s right, it has a tape deck and two of the windows don’t roll down.
In other words, my wife doesn’t have another key. The CRV only has one key. And that one key is in the storm drain.
I bend down and try to move the grate. It won’t budge. It may be locked or something.
I look down and I see the key glistening there. I walk to my hatchback. I have a small piece of rope. The girls are still eating their cheese.
Just then, a woman pulls up next to me with her cart.
“You okay?” she says.
“I lost my key down the storm drain,” I say.
“That is my absolute worst nightmare and it’s about to rain,” she says pointing at the sky.
She’s right. It’s overcast. The clouds are gray.
“How can I help you?”
“Can you go in and tell customer service and maybe they can contact the Water Department or something? The cover won’t move and I’ve got two little girls…,” I said.
“I see them, yes,” she says. “I’ll go tell customer service.”
I bend down and stare down the drain for another minute.
“Can I help you buddy?”
It’s a guy in a store uniform holding a couple of straps. Hooks are at the end of the straps. He uses them to pull in the carts.
“I can fish this down there,” he said.
“Sure,” I said. “Okay.”
I stand up and look back towards the store and see the woman who offered to help. I wave her off and tell her someone is helping me. She returns and says, “I’ll get you hangers from my house, I don’t live far away.”
I check my phone and my wife texted me that she’s on her way.
Meanwhile, Dominic is down there waving a small leather strap right above my key.
“I think…you know this will reach it…if only we can hook it…”
If only. If only.
I offer to try. I bend down there with Dominic. I’m not good at these mechanical, but precision tasks like this. I can’t hit a nail very well. I stab at sides of wood with a screwdriver, very often missing the screw. I get easily frustrated. I am not a surgeon.
“We need a fishing rod, I guess,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Dominic.
I try and can’t do anything. My one good idea to Dominic is to loop two of the straps together to make it slightly longer.
I stand back up. I check my phone. My wife says that someone from work gave her a magnetic telescoping device or something.
I ask the girls if they’re okay. They say yes.
“WHOA,” said Dominic and I turn around and he’s holding my key.
“You got it!” I yell and give him a hug. “You got it, I can’t believe it!”
“It needed to be longer and I just hooked it in there,” he said.
The woman who helped me drives up and hands me clothes hangers from her window.
“He got it,” I said.
“Take these to remember me by,” she says.
Domimic hands me my key and I start up my car and I vow to make a copy of my car key, but I haven’t done that yet.