Keys were the most desirable possession I could imagine when I was little. Key to the desk, key to the house, key to the office, key to the city, keys to Heaven….whoops, I’m getting carried away here.
Keys meant being grown-up. They meant trust, access, and authority. Therefore, my favorite person in elementary school was the janitor with his huge ring of keys hanging from his belt.
What happens when you don’t have THE key? You get locked out!
There are two episodes that stick in my mind on that subject. One of them happened 45 years ago. To understand this first story, understand the terrain. We lived in a long, narrow house in the city. It had a backyard with walls on both sides and a locked back gate. In addition to a standard lock on the back door, there was a sliding bolt. The baby carriage was in the back yard because it was easier than using the high front steps.
It was a cold afternoon. I was bundled up and, most fortunately, my baby was dressed in her one-piece pink snowsuit. Out we went. As I closed the back door, I realized that I did not have the key for the back gate — No problem. I took out my keys to re-open the back door. It would not budge. The key fit in the lock, but something was preventing the door from opening. There we were, trapped! Eventually, the teenager next door came home from school. I got her attention; threw my keys over the wall; she came in my front door, opened the back door and let us in. What had happened? The screws on the sliding lock had come loose. When I closed the door, the bolt slid over just enough to prevent the door from opening. It may have been less than an hour, but it felt like an eternity.
You may all laugh at the next story. I have been in the habit of going out on our patio to check the weather while still in my nightie. On the chilly morning in question, my husband had just gone to take a shower. As soon as I was outside, a gust of wind caught the door and slammed it shut and locked! I had no key. I could see the bathroom door through the window. My husband was right there, but he could not hear me. Had it been warm outside, I would have waited. I took a deep breath and in my nightie and fuzzy slippers, walked around to the front of our building. I will spare you all the remaining details. However, my wonderful neighbors and our Brookdale associates have never spoken one word (at least where I could hear it) to me about this episode.
Keys are changing. They can be numerical codes, plastic cards, cell phones, and eventually finger/voice prints. Does this mean more access or more lockouts? Whatever it means, I still love keys.