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Most of you know that I travel far and wide daily, braving the treacherous LA freeway system that includes not only pot-hole ravaged asphalt, over-turned, on-fire, oil-spilling semis, and tire shards that spontaneously fly out from under the car in front of you, hitting your windshield and scaring that morning’s coffee out of you, but also all kinds of road ragers.  I can definitively say that I have slipped blindly into the dreaded mindset that is road rage; but traveling 50 miles one way to work for the last 3 1/2 years will do that to a girl.  I am, like the thousands of the other people that surround me on the 60 Fwy each morning, a commuter.

But I digress. . .

I learned a very important lesson the other day as a commuter – possibly the most important lesson I’ve learned under this title that I’ve held for a while now:  Don’t lose your keys at work.  This seems like a fairly obvious statement, a statement of fact that can even be broadened to “Don’t lose your keys anywhere.”   But sometimes the fates force us to remember the most evident of facts in horrific ways.

The lesson started on a normal Wednesday night when I decided to leave work a little early.  This was mistake number one.  My husband leads a bible study on Wednesday nights, so I typically have the house all to myself.  An extra 30min would allow me to stop by the gym on my way home and still preserve my night of solitude.  On my way out of the building, I ran into a co-worker who, while very nice, is a bit of a talker.  You all have that one co-worker who you steer clear of in the hall or avoid eye-contact while leaving for lunch because once they get talking, nuclear bombs must be detonated in order for them to stop.  Anyway, afraid of losing my 30min head start home, I dug through my purse for my keys 5 min into the conversation with said co-worker.  Upon taking them out, I announced I had to run and started to leave.  Mistake number two.

With keys in hand, I stared towards the elevator that leads to the underground parking garage.  Now, I’m not sure how this next part happened.  I don’t think I tripped.  I don’t think the elevator doors hit my arm by mistake.  There wasn’t a dog or raccoon or bird that knocked them out of my hand.  But when you do something this stupid, everyone wants to know how it happened.  As I entered the elevator, the keys somehow slipped from my hand, fell in-between the small crack where the doors open and close, and down the shaft.  Its like it happened in slow-motion.  Or didn’t happen at all.  I saw them go down, but honest to goodness, my first reaction – after reaching for them wildly – was to get in the elevator and hit my floor.  It was that unbelievable to me.  With all the space around they could have landed, they landed on the crack.  I’m still slightly flabbergasted.

Even though I had just seen my keys fall into what I could only assume was a bottomless pit, my only thought was that I had lost my 30min lead.  Oh well.  I headed back inside to security with my tail between my legs to announce my stupidity.  I figured they would radio someone who would have my keys out in an hour tops.  Radio someone they did; however, that someone apparently is on some swing shift schedule as he had gone home at 3:00!  What good does that do anyone?  Or at least me who needed her keys out of the pit at 5:30?  Apparently, Disney has all elevator related emergencies between the hours of 6:00am and 3:00pm.

As the security guard relayed the news that my keys would not be released from the depths of hell until the next morning, I’m sure I stood there wide-eyed, with my mouth hanging open, completely at a loss for words.  The polite man asked if there was someone who could take me home.  I said – a little too loudly and hysterically upon reflection – that I live 50 miles from Burbank and no one I know lives my way.  My mind reeled – do I sleep here?  Do I ask to sleep at a co-worker’s house?  Do I sleep in my car?  Wait, I can’t even get in my car because I have no keys!  I decided to call my husband as the security guard called around to see if anything else could be done for the poor, stupid, clumsy girl who apparently has no control over her extremities.

Anyway, after many calls to numerous people (and many co-workers who stopped on their way out of the building to ask exactly how I had dropped my keys down the elevator shaft – sometimes it just happens and you don’t know how!!!), it was decided that my brother would drive to my house, get my spare key, and then drive the hour or so to Burbank.  Round trip, about 3 hours for him.  God bless my brother.

As I was heading back to my office to wait for my brother, my old office-mate remembered that someone in the building lived in my town!  Excellent!  And he hadn’t left yet!  Even more excellent!  So I ended up leaving the office at 6:50pm with a complete stranger. Woo Hoo – I was headed home!  About 90min after I intended and sans car keys, but you know, not sleeping at the office was a good thing at this point.  You would think this is where my troubles would end.  Not so much.

The nice stranger dropped me off at around 8:20pm.  I’m cold.  I’m starving.  And I have to pee (shocking, I know).  I realize my next hurdle to jump, naturally, was getting inside the house.  I knew my husband had hidden a key on the ledge above our porch, I just hadn’t anticipated how high the ledge was.  My husband is tall, but it still baffles me that he managed to reach this ledge.  So there I am – in the dark because our porch light isn’t on and shivering because I don’t have a jacket – standing precariously on the arm chair that decorates our front porch, trying to reach this damn key.  I tried for literally 20min to get this thing down, using everything from my shoe to a rose bush branch to knock it from its perch.  Finally, I heard the key clang to the ground and breathed a brief sigh of relief.  Brief because I realized I had no idea where the key had landed in the darkness that surrounded me.  The part of the ledge where the key was perched was directly over where the cement meets the bushes.  The key was most likely in the bushes!!!!  It was at this point, at about 8:40pm, that I started to cry.  To be fair, I am one of those people who cry more when they are frustrated or angry and not as much when they are sad.  If we are ever in an argument, don’t be surprised if I am yelling at you through tears (its actually a very ugly thing to witness and I hope none you have to experience it).

So – crying now – I immediately did what any good 21st century girl would do:  took out my cell phone to use as a flashlight.  However, my non-iphone phone was apparently not bright enough to even inspect the back of my hand, let alone the bushes that surround our porch (I have since purchased an iphone).  With my useless “flashlight” in hand and tears streaming down my face, I searched on hands and knees for another 20min.  Keys were getting the better of me that night, but hell if I’d let them defeat me!!!  But, at about 9:00pm, I sat down on the chair, about ready to throw in the towel and wait for my husband to come home.

It was at this point that my cat walked up the front steps to the porch.  She decided to sit down on the other side of the front door, the complete opposite side from where the key had dropped.  I walked to her (because she wouldn’t come to me when I called – stupid, strong-willed cat) and it was when I was right in front of her that I heard the most glorious sound – the clang of a key under my foot!  I immediately dropped to all fours again and scooped the key off the ground.  Instead of the bushes – which were directly under its perch – it had landed 10 feet away in the corner of the porch.  On the cement!  Even more frustration but relief washed over me as I quickly stuck the key in my front door and barreled towards the bathroom.  At 9:05 – 3 1/3 hours after my ordeal started – I was home.

Lessons learned from this mishap:

Never take keys out of purse before entering or exiting elevator

If you are going to have an elevator emergency, do it before 3:00pm

Remember name of helpful stranger

Hide key where the possibility of retrieving it exists