When I first moved into my apartment I debated whether or not to have a spare key made in case of emergencies. I reasoned that there was no possible way that such an emergency would come up, since the door to my apartment could only be locked by a key from the outside. Logic dictates that if I had my key to lock the door, I would still have it to unlock it.
Thursday night, I found a way.
It was a typical Thursday evening. I was tired after a long day of putting up with mind-numbing crap at work. But the previous night, I had been gently reminded by the Wake Forest police that the tags on my car had expired. And they're from another state, which is a carnal sin, in and of itself. I took it under advisement and knew that I would need to jump online and renew my tags if I wanted to continue to drive around semi-legally.
So I surfed the World Wide Web and navigated my way into the Virginia DMV's online home where I began the process of renewing my registration. Alas, to do so would require my registration number and vehicle identification number, both of which could be found on my current registration. The current registration, of course, could be found in the glove compartment of my car.
I grabbed my keys off the coffee table, slipped on some flip-flops, and headed out the door. Now, I don't live in the fanciest of apartments, but it is still open to invasion from nosy ne'er-do-wells. I generally don't leave the place without locking up. So I turned the key without a second thought and headed down to the parking lot.
I got in the car and opened the glove compartment and immediately knew that finding my registration would be a job of work. This thing hadn't been cleaned out in months, possibly years. I had just been continually stuffing things into it. Small papers and cards that I knew would be important to me at some point, but by placing them inside I could forget they existed until that time came. So I set my keys down on the seat beside me and began to discard all those old things that meant little or nothing to me anymore. There were a lot of old insurance cards, previous registration cards, those garters that I had caught at my last three weddings, and... score!... a book of stamps!
I finally found my latest version of the car's registration then headed back inside. As I boarded the elevator I noticed something strange. Well, really, I noticed the lack of something. There was no jingling sound coming from my pocket. I closed my eyes as a wave of nausea overtook me. I got back off the elevator and went back to the car. The short walk from the building to my car felt like miles and I was praying the entire time that just once I went against my nature and shut the car door without locking it first. There on the passenger seat was my one and only set of keys. And of course the door was locked.
So I walked back inside, the walk of a man who feels utterly defeated. I slowly made my way back to my apartment, again, hoping that I was remembering things wrong. Maybe I hadn't locked my apartment after all. Because through that door was hope. Inside that apartment was my wallet. A wallet which contained a spare key to my car. If I could only get to that wallet, all of my problems (of the moment) would be solved! But that door, too, was locked.
I began playing different scenarios in my head. I would be forced to sleep in the hallway and wait for the property manager or the maintenance man to show up the next day. It's not as if I could call anyone, my phone was also locked safely in my apartment. I thought about walking to the Greenehouse. It's literally right up the road from my place. But on foot, in the early summer North Carolina heat and humidity, it seemed light years away.
From there I decided to knock on doors. The first three I pounded on were empty. Either no one was living behind them or no one was home. That or they were more afraid of meeting their neighbors than I am. I finally knocked on the door of my next-door-neighbor to the right. Nice guy, works nights, so I felt pretty bad when he said he'd just woken up. I knew that it wasn't my knock that woke him, he was already awake (so he said), but I still felt bad about bothering him. He told me where Maintenance Man (who henceforth shall be known as M&M) lived. I apologized again for disturbing him and made my way to the third floor.
But no one was home there either.
Back in 213, my neighbor let me hang out until he could get someone on his cell phone. You may be asking why I didn't just call someone using his phone. Well, I was going to, but his phone book was only good for Raleigh and did not cover Wake Forest or Youngsville, the only places I would know anyone. And finding the Greenes' number would have done me no good since, that very day, they had changed their home number. Some funny joke, huh?
Luckily my neighbor had M&M's number in his cell. So he left a voice mail and we waited for him to call back. Another stroke of luck is that we only had to wait about ten minutes before M&M called back. M&M said he'd meet me in the parking lot. Since I didn't have power windows, he felt like he could get one of them down and then I'd be able to retrieve my keys. Well that didn't work. M&M took me upstairs where he got the spare key from the leasing office. M&M provided this story with a happy ending.
He let me back into my apartment. I got my spare key and my cell phone (just in case) and went back to my car. And the rest of my keys were still sitting there, waiting for my triumphant return.
Now, it's been two days since the incident. The question remains, why have I still not had a spare key made? I'm such a dummy.